On January 31st, 2013 I heard the voice of God. It wasn't audible. It wasn't glamorous or thunderous. It was intimate, secure and complete. The voice of God, revealed to me in this way, has only happened four times. The first time was about five years ago when I was in my bedroom praying. Jade was cooking supper and I remember asking God to be nearer to me. As I prayed I felt the Holy Spirit move on me with a message of assurance and presence. God said, "I am with you, Nathan". I joined Jade in the kitchen with tears on my cheeks and hands that still shook. It happened again at Fairmount campgrounds. A preacher paused his sermon and asked everyone to take five minutes right then to speak to God. I grumbled at the idea but decided to use the time wisely. I prayed. God spoke as the Holy Spirit pressed on me once again. "I want you to shepherd a flock, Nathan." I remember the way my chest felt the third time this happened. It was at my home church during a time of worship. I sobbed and sobbed. My chest filled up and felt that way for days. I still praise God for that time He spent with me. The fourth time was this past January. I could take you now to the spot where it happened. The Holy Spirit gripped my heart and called me into full time mission work. It wasn't audible but it was obvious.
I must make a confession. I have doubts. I record and remember these unique interactions with God because I need them. I need to remember when He spoke, when He moved in my life. He is real but I struggle and wrestle with normal issues of wobbly, weak faith. In a sermon this past week I told my church family that I'm like the father who said, "I believe, help my unbelief".
Strong Christians, pastors, saints and missionaries, aren't without weakness and need. Everyday we wake up and ask for Him again. We cry over repeated mistakes and nagging flaws. We pray for God's forgiveness. We ask the Holy Spirit to fill us again. "Fix me and fill me!" is a prayer I've wept many times.
On January 31st, 2013 I heard the voice of God. I've tattooed that date on my heart and in my mind. In dark times I grit my teeth and concentrate on what I remember knowing: I felt Him, heard Him and communicated with Him. Nobody said faith was easy. Do not be discouraged!
Take it from a missionary: Doubt is real, but so is He.