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An amusing story of hearing God’s guidance

Lynne Baab • Thursday October 8 2015

An amusing story of hearing God’s guidance

Many months ago, a friend of mine was asked to lead music at an international conference. She was happy to say yes, and she immediately contacted people who had helped her lead music at conferences in the past to see if they would be willing to come along and help. None of them were available.

She prefers to lead singing with a team rather than alone, even though she is quite capable of doing it alone, so she wondered what to do next. Should she cast the net wide and contact everyone she knows who leads music? Or should she pray and wait to see how God led her?

She chose the latter path. She began praying for God’s guidance and asked others to pray. I was one of those friends praying for music leaders to go with her overseas to the conference.

Last Sunday I saw her in person and asked her if she had found anyone to go with her. She said, “Yes, I did. I had a dream, and in that dream I saw this particular fellow leading music. I contacted him, and both he and his wife were eager to come on the trip with me. It turns out they have several connections with the country where the conference will be held. And unbeknownst to me, God had already been speaking to them about a return visit.”

She then added, “I love that God allowed me to dream about him leading music. What I don’t like to tell people is that I had the dream when I fell asleep during a massage.”

Perceiving God’s guidance from a dream is not at all uncommon in the Bible or in Christian history. I doubt that many of those dreams happened during a massage! I want to make several observations from this story that made me smile.

1. My friend was quite blessed that her dream was so clear. So many dreams are hard to figure out. We must never say that dreams are easy to interpret and should always be clear. But God does speak clearly through dreams from time to time, and we need to be open to that reality.

2. My friend had been actively praying for guidance about musicians who could come on the trip with her, and she had asked other people to pray for guidance as well. We can’t say God only speaks to us when we are praying to hear God’s voice, because God initiates with people in all sorts of settings and in all sorts of circumstances. But anecdotally in my own life, and from reports in other people’s lives, God often seems to speak to us when we’ve been asking for guidance of some sort. And our prayers open us to listen, giving us expectant hearts.

3. Maybe it’s not an accident that my friend had this dream during a massage. She was relaxed, having given control over to the massage therapist for an hour. She was probably more in touch with her body than usual (before she fell asleep!). Relaxation and being in touch with our bodies makes us very present to the sensory experience of the moment, and often God is seems especially present to us when we are present to the world God created. And often we are more able to hear God speak when we relinquish some of the control we love to exercise.

Watching for patterns can help us be more open to hearing God’s voice. So, with the goal of seeing patterns, I’ll ask what you have observed in your own life. Do you hear God more easily

  • about topics you have prayed for?
  • when you’re in touch with nature or your body?
  • when you relinquish control?

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My short book on holding grief and gratitude in two hands helps us cope in hard times. Two Hands: Grief and Gratitude in the Christian Life guides us into experiencing both the brokenness and abundance of God's world with authenticity and hope, drawing on the Psalms, Jesus, Paul, and personal experience. It is available for kindle and in paperback (80 pages). 

I’ve been posting a lot about listening recently. Here are most of the posts:

John Perkins listened 
good listeners are detectives, not tennis players

a game that nurtures good listening
receptivity and listening
humility and listening
humility and listening part 2
listening wisely to people’s stories
my journey as a listener
why do we listen?
letting go of agendas as we listen
hearing God’s voice
an amusing story of why listening matters
“holy curiosity" as a way to think about effective listening
the role of listening in nurturing Christian discipleship
listening and hospitality

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