Is That You God or Just My Imagination?

talking to God2

I would venture to say that most people would deny that God can be known.  I’m sure many would agree that one can know of God or about God, but few would say they actually know Him personally.  The Bible tells us that He reveals Himself to those that “diligently seek Him with all of their heart”, and that He is a “rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.”  Even Christ says, to knock and the door will be opened, seek and you will find, and ask and it will be given to you.  But do we really believe that it is possible?  And by the way, Joan of Arc basically answered the question asked in the title with a definitive “Yes”.  That’s clever, Joan…but I think there might be more to it than that.

When I have stated in private or in public that I know God, people look at me like I’ve lost my marbles or comment on my blog that I must have made it up in my head or that it is my over-active imagination (a direct result of eating Italian food before bed).  And believe it or not, I don’t blame them!  When I was merely a believer, I too would shudder and snicker when I heard someone say, “God spoke to me this morning…”  Here is the problem:  I know many people are full of bologna when they utter this phrase, we know there are people who tell lies to make money or promote their agenda, and we know there are misguided “prophets” out there that are treading on thin ice.  How do I know this?  Because the Bible tells me so!  And I have a finely tuned B.S. detector.  So, for many years I assumed that anyone who said they heard God speaking to them was full of proverbial doo-doo!

It wasn’t until I read Jesus say, “My sheep know My voice” that I began to give this whole “God speaking” thing a chance.  I took to heart the verses quoted above about seeking out the Lord in earnest.  I mean, what could possibly be more important, more worthwhile, or more fulfilling than to actually know God and hear Him speak?  If it were possible, I wanted to get to the bottom of it.  Now mind you, I have been in Christian circles for a while and have become quite jaded so to speak.  My prayer every day is that I would have above all, an authentic experience of God: ie.  no imagination, no play-time, no emotional high, no “leaning on my own understanding”, and no faking!  Maybe my skepticism kept me for many years from experiencing communication with God.  And barring any hyperbole or romantic notions of whimsical statements like, “I see God in a raindrop” or “God is in all and is all” (you have to say this with the word “like” inserted between every other word and be holding a wine cooler), I needed to get to the bottom of this notion.  First of all, I thought what would God want to do with me anyway?  He has all kinds of issues all around the earth and the universe I am sure…how would He have time for me?  Secondly, I thought I am such a loser and awful example of humankind, why would He (even if He had the time) even bother with me?  I’m sure He has saints and ministers and missionaries that certainly need Him more than I and who am I to take up His valuable time?  And lastly, I thought who am I talking to and from whom am I expecting an answer?  Would I be talking to God the Father, Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit, or simply my wall?  Do I pray to one and all, do I address one and expect an answer from another…like a message chain or something?  Would He hand the answer back down the chain of command, send an angel, speak directly, or what?  You see, the over-complication is above all a human construct, for God is not the author of confusion…He is simple in His delivery!  And despite what the cold halls of theology suggest, I wanted Him to meet me in the here and now; I was tired of knowing about Him and decided that I would leave theology for the very real pathway to a simplistic question that echoes a verse from a Pink Floyd song, “Is there anybody out there” (add reverb here).

I know this is a touchy subject, so I have to rely completely on my own experience, and because God is a creative and personal kind of being, He may use different methods with different people.  Some things, I am sure, are universal; and some things, I am equally as sure, are quite individual.  I mean, Balaam was spoken to by a donkey, Moses by a burning bush, and Elijah by a “small, still voice”.  In the New Testament, God’s voice was likened to a rumble of thunder, the sound of many rushing waters, and sometimes just straight-up, “Hello, how are you?”  So off I went on this quest to “hear from God”, and here is what I have to report back to all the believers AND skeptics out there.

I will detail some more information in later posts, but here is the basic progression in my own words.  First of all, I prayed.  I prayed, “God, I think I believe in You…I’m not really sure.  But if You are really there, will You make Yourself known to me?”  I know… that is a monster of a prayer, eh?  Just flowing and beautiful, poetic and harmonious, pious and incantational…don’t you think?  Seriously, isn’t that just the most beautiful example of prayer-prowess ever?  Sometimes I liken our first prayers to our children’s first attempts at “art”…like the sloppy mess of a crayon drawing that gets “refrigerator time”.  It may not be that lovely as an objective work of art, but it’s the heart behind it that counts.  That is how the Lord views our feeble attempts at prayer:  not so pretty, but He hears the intentions of our hearts.  I’m sure there is a “peanut gallery” up in heaven somewhere where the angels sit around and roast our prayers for their enjoyment!  I’m sure it is just for fun, and I am sure it provides hours and hours of angelic entertainment.  Surely, they have a list of one-liners that always makes them double over in laughter.  Anyway, God honestly doesn’t care.  Why do I know this?  Because the Bible tells me so!  Jesus uses children as an example of how we should approach God…crayons and all, finger-painted turkeys that are merely a hand-print (who do these kids think they are fooling?), paper Mache projects with irregular swaths of glitter, and colored pipe-cleaners twisted into something unrecognizable!  Remember, His mercy endures forever…thank you Lord.  So the first step for me was a prayer.

The second thing I did was to search the Scriptures for clues.  The funny thing is, in my searching for how to hear His voice, the words on the page began to speak their own language.  I was not prepared for this part of the journey.  I had read the Bible before, memorized a bunch of verses while I was a wee lad, and was a master of the “Sword Drill” (a game where the Sunday school teacher would stand everyone up at the front of the class with Bibles in hand and would call out a Bible verse…the first person to the verse would shout the verse out loud when they found it with high fives following the victory…I basked in the glory of my pinpoint accuracy and dexterity).  Nevertheless, the Bible was really nothing more than a collection of stories, a depository of wisdom to live by, and the account of a Savior that I believed in, but never really knew.  That was then; this is now.  Now, the verses began to breathe, they began to jump off the page and something inside of me leaped with an unexpected joy.  I could not and probably never will, be able to completely understand this phenomenon.  When you report and testify to someone who has not experienced this magical experience, they again nod…you know, the way a car salesman shows intense interest when you show them your family photos in your wallet or the way someone will politely look through you while you tell them about your recent bout with kidney stones.  They are polite and yet you know there will be dinner-time fodder as they hysterically relay your insanity to their friends over sushi.  But the fact remains, my spirit began to respond to the words that were written so many years ago.  What was the difference?  I think the main difference was two-fold:  first, there was that gem of a prayer and second, I was actually looking for something and maybe, just maybe, the “Big Guy” was trying to reach me as well.  If you go by what the Bible says (if you are inclined to believe what is written in the Bible), then you know it says that God draws closer to those who draw close to Him.  Imagine that.

Now it gets a little weird.  I was reading in the Book of John and something remarkable began to emerge.  Jesus was making this logical, progressive case for what He called the Holy Spirit.  Now, I knew of the Holy Spirit…conceptually anyway…and considered this to be part of the whole philosophical, metaphorical, poetic, intangible, all-encompassing “power of the universe” Holy Spirit.  But as I continued to explore the references concerning this Holy Spirit, the adjectives used to describe “it” sounded a whole lot like a “whom”.  I read of Him grieving, choosing, and giving; I read of Him having a will, emotions, and an agenda.  This notion really flew in the face of the whole “universal power” thing; this preconceived notion I had must have been a residual deposit from Shirley MacLaine, the New Age movement, Carlos Castaneda, listening to too much Yanni while my grandmother and I did dishes, hanging with my fellow potheads “jommin” to Bob Marley, and maybe a smidgen of Star Wars overdose in my pubescent years.  But over a period of time, the whole thing started to make sense.  I won’t go into detail now for time purposes (although if someone asked me to go into details…I do take requests); but suffice it to say, one cannot read the New Testament without seeing how saturated the texts are with the Spirit…you can’t get around it.

I realized I needed to get to know this Spirit, for all the power to live a Christian life comes from the Spirit, all communication comes from Him (well, maybe not all communication comes from Him, as I have heard of angelic visitations {very rare} and visits by Jesus Himself {even more rare}), He is the “guarantee” that we are Christ’s, He “searches the deep mysteries of God”, and most of all He is the Teacher.  Hey, wait a minute!  That’s what I really need…a teacher!  I just have to share a couple of verses with you; this verse was written by John and gives some very important insights as to what being “anointed in the Spirit” really entails.  In the book of 1 John, chapter 2, and verse 27, it says, “But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.”…wow…seriously?  That verse jumped out at me and slapped me in the face.  So the Bible is telling me that Holy Spirit teaches me ALL things?  Remember, I had been reading in the Gospel of John already; and when I read this, I was just floored.  Then I remembered Jesus saying, “…when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatsoever He hears He will speak…”  The journey continued as I read about the works of the apostles, read the statements they made, and digested the implications thereof.  According to Scripture, the Holy Spirit is God-on-earth, He is God in you, He is alive and well and NOT way up in the sky somewhere combing a long, white beard and sitting on a cloud!  Holy crap (forgive the pun), this is what I have been missing!  Finally, the kicker…found in the Book of Luke…check this one out:  “If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone?  Or perhaps if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?  Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:11-13).  And by the way, I didn’t add the exclamation point…Jesus did.

I told myself I would keep this post to 2000 words or less and just flew past that mark.  So as to not keep you for too much longer, I will end with a teaser.  Some will sigh with relief (you know who you are!) and some will be like, “Aaaawwww, just keep going man…I’m diggin’ on it!” (assuming people still use the word “diggin’”)  Fear not, my fearless reader in the latter category…more is to come.  I could continue and tell you about how I’ve had visions, or divine dreams, or prophetic insights, or how I now enjoy life in the Spirit as a way of “normal” function in life.  I could tell you of the three different types of Holy Spirit workings (beside you, inside you, and upon you).  I could tell you how the Holy Spirit gives gifts to believers (the “upon” or anointing), or how the Holy Spirit works in us to produce fruits of the Spirit (the working “in us”), or how the Spirit draws people to Christ (the working “beside us”)…but alas, my time is short and so are most of the collective attention spans of my readers (being victims of the digital, speed-of-light generation).  But in the time span between my writings on this subject, maybe I could suggest a couple of good reads on the subject.  A modern book that is easy to read is Francis Chan’s “The Forgotten God”; an oldie but goodie, if you like the whole evangelistic, “in your face” approach is R.A. Torrey’s “The Holy Spirit” (a series of sermons that is AWESOME); for the traditional “by the book” crowd, I suggest Charles Swindoll’s “Flying Closer to the Flame”; and for the real adventurous (deep thinkers and theological masterminds) I suggest Watchman Nee’s  “The Work of the Holy Spirit”.  There are some out there that don’t  want to venture too far from the Bible-only approach; I can assure you, I have read all of the above mentioned books and every one of them is chocked full of Scripture and do not “chase rabbits” so to speak or take liberties.  To be quite candid, the Bible is pretty darn scandalous about the Holy Spirit all on its own!

One final note:  I have to be completely honest here; if some question whether or not one can speak and be spoken to by the living God, I have to say that personally, if I couldn’t and He wouldn’t, then I would be seeking somewhere else!  I hate to be blunt, but I want people to know that it is not only possible but actually kind of expected of us.  So if you are a Christian and not having a two-sided conversation with God, then you need to start praying the prayer Christ mentions in Luke; if you are a non-believer, then I would suggest opening your mind and praying my model prayer (surely you can do better) that I mentioned at the beginning of this post.  Good luck on your quest and if you do hear God in a raindrop, please let me know.  If you have any questions, comments or requests, please click the little “leave a comment” button at the bottom.

talking to God1

May the God that speaks bless you immensely!



18 thoughts on “Is That You God or Just My Imagination?

  1. I hope you reply but I didn’t really understand how I can differentiate visions from my own imagination, is it possible for you to just summarise for me, like in block form, please….
    And I would love to know more about the 3workings of the Holy spirit,please

  2. Excellent post. You were being led without even knowing it. The same thing happens ed to me and now I’m totally into learning more and more about the Holy Spirit.

  3. I am on a similiar search as you are. I must admit im frustrated and down. I have had to convice myself over and over that God exists because there is no other explanation to the perfect intelligent design of the world and us. I would like it if you contacted me personally by email.

  4. Hi, I really enjoyed reading this article and I definitely believe that god can speak to people. I really want to get to know god and get really close to him! I am just curious about how god talks to you. When you talk to him do you actually hear a voice and have conversations with him. How do you have conversations with god?

  5. I did enjoy reading your words of wisdom, some of the scriptures that you gave I have wrote. Sometimes I can think about a person and they will appear
    One time my eyes were close ,as I was in a place where I was getting therapy and I thought on my friend when I opened my eyes she was in front of me.

  6. This is a great article, I have seen things, and my wife thinks i’m crazy. So coming from my partner that I Have great respect for, I don’t know whats real or unreal. I have had many confirmations that I’m a prophet.. but the person that I love and respect dearly is placing doubt. In one area concerning her and another man.

  7. I found this to be just what I was looking for. I am having what I would like to call visions from God but I am fully awake. This a bit confusing because this new in my Christian walk. The first vision was also accompanIed with a foreign language, and not the so called “”speaking in tongues” that I have heard in churches years ago. This was an actual language. I sounded much like Arabic to me. I know this because I lived in Saudis Arabia back in the 80’s and am familiar with the way the language sounds. Anyway I won’t go into anymore detail but was looking for somewhere that might validate my thoughts on this subject. I too am thought by the Holy Spirit and rely on no man for instruction, but it is nice to get feedback from likeminded people when I have a question. I will bookmark this blog and will continue reading. God bless you!

  8. Great, interesting and funny except for one thing. Most do not realize, but thought I’d share just incase any other folks are under the same assumption or understanding.

    —>There are 9 gifts, 9 attributes but only 1 Fruit (which is the Holy Spirit.)

    See: Galatians 5:22-23 (Specifically verse 22) But the FRUIT of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. ***Notice the verse says: “Fruit” not Fruits. The verbiage following are the ATTRIBUTES**

    Now see the GIFTS of that 1 Fruit.
    1 Corinthians 12:7-11
    But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

    God Bless!

  9. Pingback: When Jesus Looks More Like Andrew Garfield and Your Garden Is a Honda Civic | Samantha Gale | Writer

  10. Thank you!! I used to start out saying “I know your going to think I am crazy” when I knew God had spoken to me. Now that people know I am crazy, they just accept me. You are an awesome inspiration.

  11. “if some question whether or not one can speak and be spoken to by the living God, I have to say that personally, if I couldn’t and He wouldn’t, then I would be seeking somewhere else! ”
    Either Jesus is real and trustworthy, or he isn’t. Life is too short to play church if Jesus didn’t mean what he said. So one day I went for a walk with Holy Spirit (who is in total unity with Father and Jesus so they came too) and told him about my day and a movie I had seen, and he started talking back (in unique ways that require me to pay attention like pictures or lines from songs or riddles or dreams or blogs or books or nature or a still small voice in the night -even the words of strangers on a plane) but I am learning to recognize his voice. There are other voices that will mimic but I am learning to recognize those too. His voice always comes through or lines up with scripture and it is always loving, even when saying tough things.

    Thanks for this!

    • Boy…isn’t that the truth! His voice always has and always will be in perfect unity with the written word. The Logos and the rhema always find their foothold in pure and undefiled truth. Very well put Charis. Be blessed and full of wisdom.

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