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A Course in Miracles tells us that "God's Voice speaks to me all through the day" (W-pI.49.Heading). An essential teaching of the Course is that we should listen to that Voice and let it guide all of our decisions. This guidance needn't take the form of an audible voice: it can come through a thought, an image, a feeling, or myriad other ways. Whatever form it takes, discerning God's Voice clearly on a consistent basis is a skill that won't be learned overnight. Yet the Course promises that, with time and practice, we can hear God's Voice, and that Voice will lead us home.
Hearing God's Voice needn't be anything spectacular. However, sometimes it is spectacular, and I'd like to share a story that sounds pretty spectacular to me. In the evangelical Christian magazine Christianity Today, an author who chose to be anonymous (for reasons unclear to me) describes what he calls his "conversation with God."
The story begins with the author meeting 14-year-old twin boys who were the grandsons of an acquaintance. When he first met them, an "inner voice" told him that he would play a significant role in the future of one of the twins, but at the time he dismissed it. Over the next five years, though, he got to know the boys better as they grew into young men, and it turned out that one of them felt a calling to a music ministry. The author is a professor of theology at a Christian university, and after a campus tour, this young man immediately felt a pull to attend that university.
There was only one problem: money. His family couldn't afford it, and though he applied for scholarships, he had little success. The author, who is also of modest means, wanted to help him, so one day he prayed: "Oh, God, please use me to make it possible for him to go to this university!" After that, an amazing series of events unfolded. First, the title for a book popped into the author's head. Then the outline of the book emerged fully formed in his mind; "no discursive thought preceded it." He started writing rapidly, with "the distinct feeling that this was not me," and in two weeks he had a two-hundred-page manuscript. A well-known Christian publisher he had never worked with before popped into his mind, and he sold the manuscript to that publisher through an editor he knew there. The publisher gave him a huge advance, ten times larger than any he had received before. "I felt like I had won the lottery!"
The funny thing was, though, that he had apparently forgotten about his promise to help his young friend. The author and his wife needed a new roof for their house; surely the money was for that, especially since the estimate for the roof repair was the same amount as the advance. God, however, had other plans, and made that clear in the form of an audible voice in the author's head that persisted for several days. The conversation went like this:
God: "It's not your money."
Author: "What do you mean it's not my money?"
God: "It's not your money. It's his."
God (naming the young man): "It's for him to go to the university and study for the ministry."
Author: "All of it?"
God: "That and the rest" (any future royalties the book might make).
Author (shaking his fist in the air): "What about my roof?"
God: "I'll take care of your roof, if you'll be obedient."
Author: "If you want to use me to help him go to the university, why not give me everything it will cost? Why this amount that will make a difference but not pay his whole way?"
God: "Others have to be obedient too."
To make a long story short, the author followed God's guidance and everything fell into place. Financial aid began pouring in for the young man from a number of sources—apparently the others who needed to be "obedient" came through—and he was able to attend the university. The author even got his new roof. And when he shared with the young man everything that had happened (a sharing that was prompted by guidance to do so), the young man choked up with tears. He had been wrestling with doubts about his calling, but now he felt that the author's story was a confirmation of his call.
It's difficult to tell with absolute certainty whether guidance comes from God. The author himself says he is usually skeptical about such things, which I think is a good stance to take. But this incident has a number of elements that in my experience seem to be signs of real guidance. The author asked God to enable him to help another person. This caused something unexpected—the book—to drop into his mind "out of the blue." The guidance he received about the money was counter to his own desires and expectations. Throughout the process, you really get the sense that God had a plan in mind and things were arranged. And in the end, the guidance helped everyone involved, including the author himself. He says that even today, reflecting on this event fills him with emotion. Through hearing God's guidance, following it, and giving to his young friend in need, he himself received a precious gift:
My faith in a living, personal, loving, and providing God has been renewed and deepened. Now I know, more than intellectually, that God still speaks.