My Story: “If only I could hear His voice”

By Denise Rhoades

Eleven years ago was a long period of searching for truth about God to feed my own soul. I’d lost my grandpa. My (now former) fiancé had called off our wedding four months before we were to be married. In short, I was in a state of life- altering confusion.

One night alone in my room kneeling by my bed, when I was at a point of final desperation, I cried out to God, tears waterfalling down my cheeks.

I can’t do this anymore. I have tried to live my life my way and all I have is a mess. Lord, I want you to take charge of my life. I am sorry for all the bad things I’ve done, the self-centered person I’ve been and horrible decisions I’ve made. I want a different life now if it’s not too late.

Early the next morning, just as I was beginning to awake, my eyes not quite open yet, I heard it.

As clear as I can hear the roar of rush hour now, God spoke! It came from the direction of the 100-year-old chair at the foot of my bed in which I often read my Bible. In a deep, clear voice, He said, “It’s ok, Denise. I love you. I have waited all these years for you and I forgive you.”

My heart surged. I sat up, opening my eyes–but saw no one. I didn’t believe it at first. My mind tried to convince myself it was a noise from the neighbors, but I knew. My heart knew differently. I knew it was the voice of the One who spoke me into existence; who’d been whispering to my soul.

I wept. God had waited 35 years for me and still loved me and forgave me. It was too amazing not to share;  I immediately called my sister.

More, Please

As you gaze overseas, I so get that you would want your vision to be Windex-clear. You’re quitting your job, humbling yourself to raise financial support, maybe with a family in tow. There’s a chance you could bite it big. Let’s make sure it’s from God before you shove all your chips in that direction, right?

There’ve been more times than I can count in the eleven years since that day I have pleaded with God to hear his voice again. To speak to me clearly again. To give me the direction and answers I was seeking. I never have.

But I love how Bob Goff responds to my churning, burning questions in Everybody Always:

What we actually want is that extra nudge of confidence from God and the opportunity to move forward courageously to do those things we already know how to do. What a shame if we were waiting for God to say something and He’s been waiting on us to do something.

….When we dream up something where the outcome seems uncertain and we don’t hear God’s voice, what if God isn’t saying anything to us because He’s already said it? … He knows that without risk we can’t grow.

Whoa. What? God may not ‘speak’ when we desire to hear Him because he’s already told us in His Scripture what to do? He’s already given us the answers we seek? He may not speak because he is already…waiting on us to do it?

Faith blooms as we risk it all; as the seed falls to the ground and dies. In order to grow our faith, to experience God? We may actually need to just do it.

What We Know

Listen to some of the things God’s already answered:

    • Ephesians 5:1: “be imitators of God”
    • Matthew 6:33: “seek first the Kingdom of God”
    • 2 Corinthians 6:14: “do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers”
    • Matthew 5:15: “let your light shine before others”
    • 1 Corinthians 13:13: “the greatest of these is love”
    • Psalm 113:3: “the name of the Lord is to be praised”
    • Isaiah 1:17: “defend the orphan. Plead for the widow”
    • Micah 6:8: “do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God”
    • Matthew 28:19-20: “go and make disciples of all nations… baptizing… teaching them all I commanded you”

Picture the scene in the first pages of the world, from Genesis 3: God spoke. Adam heard his voice, boldly. Clearly. God and Adam talked and walked with each other, just like you and I would have a chat and walk with friends, or clustered around Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Can you imagine? Hearing the sound of God’s voice.

But look back at the last line of Genesis 3:11, God says “have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”

God had already given the command. God has spoken to each of us as followers of Christ.

Will we listen?

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Help Your Marriage Thrive Overseas! Part III

Missed Part I and II? Grab ’em here.

Moving to Africa was like seeing a new version of my husband.

Sure; in some ways it aged us and strained us in ways we could have never experienced. But it was also extremely cool to see my husband as the guy tooling around an African metropolis, learning to navigate the streets to care for his family. I would have never anticipated the overwhelming generosity he possessed; the crazy-cool gifts of cultural understanding and helping Africans through heartbreaking conflicts and difficulties. What if I’d never seen the African version of him? And as I at last realized my dream of moving overseas, we laughed out loud about the “Afro-disiac” it was for our marriage!

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Help Your Marriage Thrive Overseas! Part II

Missed Part I? Grab it here.

Like going overseas, marriage is a form of faith—even more in God than in your spouse.

And as C.S. Lewis has written, Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted in spite of your changing moods.

All of us encounter those days where we’re thinking, if he throws his socks beside the hamper one more time, I am going to tell him exactly where he should put them. Or, Honey, I get hormones. But does PMS really last all month? 

And living overseas tacks on its own version. Did we really need to stay at a six-hour church service on your only real day off? Or, We set aside tonight for a movie night because we don’t even have the energy to talk. And now the electricity’s out. Again.

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Help Your Marriage Thrive Overseas! Part I

While living in Uganda, we paid a trusted African friend to watch our kids while we went on date nights. At first, she looked at us like we’d grown horns.

“He still takes you out on dates?”

She opined aloud that if I were Ugandan and had borne four children, my husband would probably be looking for another woman to…entertain him. So believe it or not, our consistent dates and happy marriage were a fun and refreshing testimony to those watching us.

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Different Strokes? Marital Differences as You Look Overseas, Part II

Missed Part I? Grab it here.

“Should My Spouse Go Through Language Training if Not Headed into Formal Ministry?”

Someone asked my husband and I recently if they should both be enrolled in language school. Our answer? Unquestionably. Both spouses will be interacting with the culture–and both need to be mobile within that culture. Conversely, whoever doesn’t have language or cultural training will be handicapped at whatever level caps their interaction–not just for everyday life, but for ministry capacity. Imagine a person coming to your passport country without speaking your language. They’re reduced to functioning even less than the hearing impaired (who have sign language); they’re on the outside looking in, utterly isolated from anyone by their inability to communicate.

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Different Strokes? Marital Differences as You Look Overseas, Part I

One of the biggest stresses on my engagement wasn’t really the normal stuff–the wedding planning or whatnot. It was a phrase I’d rerun over in my head a hundred times: I don’t feel called overseas. Evangelism is not my gift. My husband-to-be surpassed the one I’d been looking for so many times over. And it really did seem God was leading us to marriage.

But was he?

Was I…selling out? I’d been headed in an overseas direction for years. What was I missing?

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The Fix: For What Might Be Broken in Your Fundraising

By John Patton

Surveys can tell you what you already know. You’ve felt it slip down your back, constrict your chest, look away in mortification, slide beneath your fake smile. The #1 obstacle to entering full-time ministry?

Fear of fundraising.

Um. But–a lot of people have raised money for short-term trips. Why wouldn’t they stick their necks out there for long-term global work?

The Bake Sale Approach

To answer that, let’s look at some traditional ways people raise funds for short term stuff:

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#BestOfTheBestFriday: Why We Go; Personality & Evangelism; The Gospel & Social Class

Why We Go–Lest We Forget

Still wrestling through the decision to go–or needing a pick-me-up in the midst of all the prep (Remind me why I’m doing this again?)? Don’t miss Justin Bullington’s post with the heartfelt letters of a Papua New Guinean, pleading for global workers to come. 

Evangelism and Your Personality Type 

Yet another reason why we dig Jesus: Every person was an individual to him. He’d step away from the crowds to hear that one person crying out–and to ask them specific questions about where they were, right where he found them. It’s why Go. Serve. Love is keen on global work that isn’t McMissions. People are more than a one-size-fits all McMethod.

Ever wonder how personality should influence how you share Jesus–or how others receive it? Cru’s got some great tips on applying the Myers-Briggs personality profile to sharing Jesus.

Sharing Jesus–and Social Class Factors

Working with the poor is a whole different animal when it comes to effectively planting churches and sharing our faith. Are we willing to accept the personal risk, risk for sending churches, and build truly effective national strategies? Acts29 asks wise and heart-provoking questions in this post on The Gospel & Class: Risky Business.

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