She had done it again! Instead of coming straight home from school like she was supposed to, she had gone to her friend’s house. Without permission. Without our knowledge. Without doing her chores.
With a ministering household that included remnants of three struggling families plus our own toddler and newborn, my wife simply couldn’t handle all the work on her own. Everyone had to pull their own weight. Everyone had age-appropriate tasks they were expected to complete. At fourteen, Rachel and her younger brother were living with us while her parents tried to overcome lifestyle patterns that had resulted in the children running away to escape the dysfunction. I felt sorry for Rachel, but honestly, my wife was my greatest concern.
Now Rachel had ditched her chores to spend time with her friends. It wasn’t the first time, but if I had anything to say about it, it would be the last. I intended to lay down the law when she got home and make it very clear that if she was going to live under my roof, she would obey my rules.
But… she wasn’t home yet. And I had recently been learning to hear God’s voice more clearly. Maybe I should try to see if I could hear anything from Him about the situation. So I went to my office and reviewed what the Lord had been teaching me from Habakkuk 2:1-2 “I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart; and I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me.... Then the Lord answered me and said, ‘Record the vision.’” Habakkuk said, “I will stand on my guard post.” Well, I didn’t have a guard post but I did have an office, so I went there to quiet my temper and my mind.
Loving God through a quiet worship song is one very effective way to become still. In Second Kings, Elisha needed a word from the Lord, so he said, “Bring me a minstrel,” and as the minstrel played, the Lord spoke (2 Kings 3:15). I have found that playing a worship song is the quickest way for me to come to stillness. I need to choose my song carefully; boisterous songs of praise do not bring me to stillness, but rather gentle songs that express my love and worship. And it isn’t enough just to sing the song into the cosmos. I come into the Lord’s presence most quickly and easily when I use my godly imagination to see the truth that He is right here with me and I sing my songs to Him, personally.
“I will keep watch to see,” said the prophet. To receive the pure word of God, it is very important that my heart be properly focused as I become still, because my focus is the source of the intuitive flow.
If I fix my eyes upon Jesus (Heb. 12:2), the intuitive flow comes from Jesus. But if I fix my gaze upon some desire of my heart, the intuitive flow comes out of that desire. To have a pure flow I must become still and carefully fix my eyes upon Jesus. For me, quietly worshiping the King and receiving out of the stillness that follows quite easily accomplishes this.
Habakkuk was actually looking for vision as he prayed. He opened the eyes of his heart and looked into the spirit world to see what God wanted to show him. God has always spoken through dreams and visions, and He specifically said that they would come to those upon whom the Holy Spirit is poured out (Acts 2:1-4, 17).
Being a logical, rational person, observable facts that could be verified by my physical senses were the foundations of my life, including my spiritual life. I had never thought of opening the eyes of my heart and looking for vision. However, I have come to believe that this is exactly what God wants me to do. He gave me eyes in my heart to see in the spirit the vision and movement of Almighty God.
When I had quieted my heart enough that I was able to picture Jesus without the distractions of my own ideas and plans, I was able to “keep watch to see what He will speak to me.” I wrote down my question: “Lord, what should I do about Rachel?”
Immediately the thought came to me, “She is insecure.” Well, that certainly wasn’t my thought! Her behavior looked like rebellion to me, not insecurity.
But like Habakkuk, I was coming to know the sound of God speaking to me (Hab. 2:2). Elijah described it as a still, small voice ( Kings 19:12 NKJV). I had previously listened for an inner audible voice, and God does speak that way at times. However, I have found that usually, God’s voice comes as spontaneous thoughts, visions, feelings, or impressions.
God told Habakkuk to record the vision (Hab. 2:2). This was not an isolated command. The Scriptures record many examples of individual’s prayers and God’s replies, such as the Psalms, many of the prophets, and Revelation. I have found that obeying this final principle amplified my confidence in my ability to hear God’s voice so that I could finally make living out of His initiatives a way of life.
I have found two-way journaling to be a fabulous catalyst for clearly discerning God’s inner, spontaneous flow, because as I journal I am able to write in faith for long periods of time, simply believing it is God. I know that what I believe I have received from God must be tested. However, testing involves doubt and doubt blocks divine communication, so I do not want to test while I am trying to receive ( James 1:5–8). With journaling, I can receive in faith, knowing that when the flow has ended I can test and examine it carefully.
So I wrote down what I believed He had said: “She is insecure.”
But the Lord wasn’t done. I continued to write the spontaneous thoughts that came to me: “Love her unconditionally. She is flesh of your flesh and bone of your bone.”
My mind immediately objected: She is not flesh of my flesh. She is not related to me at all—she is a foster child, just living in my home temporarily. It was definitely time to test this “word from the Lord”!
There are three possible sources of thoughts in our minds—our- selves, satan, and the Holy Spirit. It was obvious that the words in my journal did not come from my own mind; I certainly didn’t see her as insecure or flesh of my flesh. And I sincerely doubted that satan would encourage me to love anyone unconditionally!
Okay, it was starting to look like I might have actually received counsel from the Lord. It was consistent with the names and char- acter of God as revealed in the Scripture, and totally contrary to the names and character of the enemy. So that meant that I was hearing from the Lord, and He wanted me to see the situation in a different light. Rachel was my daughter—part of my family, not by blood but by the hand of God Himself. The chaos of her birth home had created deep insecurity about her worthiness to be loved by anyone, including me and including God. Only the unconditional love of the Lord expressed through an imperfect human would reach her heart.
But there was still one more test I needed to perform before I would have absolute confidence that this was truly God’s word to me: I needed confirmation from someone else whose spiritual discernment I trusted. So I went to my wife and shared what I had received. I knew if I could get her validation, especially as she was the one most wronged in the situation, then I could say, at least to myself, “Thus sayeth the Lord.”
Needless to say, Patti immediately and without question confirmed that the Lord had spoken to me. My entire planned lecture was forgotten. I returned to my office anxious to hear more. As the Lord planted a new, supernatural love for Rachel within me, He showed me what to say and how to say it to not only address the current issue of household responsibility, but the deeper issues of love and acceptance and worthiness.
Rachel and her brother remained as part of our family for another two years, giving us many opportunities to demonstrate and teach about the Father’s love, planting spiritual seeds in thirsty soil. We weren’t perfect and we didn’t solve all of her issues, but because I had learned to listen to the Lord, we were able to avoid creating more brokenness and separation.
The four simple keys that the Lord showed me from Habakkuk have been used by people of all ages to break through into intimate, two-way conversations with their loving Father and dearest Friend. Omitting any one of the keys will prevent you from receiving all He wants to say to you. The order of the keys is not important, just that you use them all. Embracing all four by faith can change your life. Simply quiet yourself down, tune to spontaneity, look for vision, and journal. God is waiting to meet you there.