My friend Tessie shared a powerful testimony with our Board of Directors that’s so timely and filled with essential wisdom for every ministry, I had to share.
Nearly four years ago, a “cloud” appeared on my left eye. After many tests, and with no family history of the disease, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
As I wrestled through the frustration of my body failing to obey my mind, I also began to ask why something bad was happening to me when I have always been a “good Christian.” I had to take a step back to realize I was asking the wrong question. Instead, I needed to ask, “What is God saying?”
Numerous books have been written on how to hear God. However, when it comes to books, nothing compares to sitting and talking with the author face to face. Following my diagnosis, I decided to only read the Bible and talk to its Author. I began searching Scripture for key questions God had asked His people:
- (Moses): What is in your hands? (Exodus 4:2)
- (Jacob): What is your name? (Genesis 32:27
- (Elijah): What are you doing here? (I Kings 19:13)
- (Esther) What do you want? (Esther 5:3)
- (Hagar) Where have you come from and where are you going? (Genesis 16:8)
How would I have answered those questions? Could I answer them now? During this time, I learned that when it comes to hearing God, the challenge isn’t just in our ability to hear His voice, but also in our willingness to engage in the conversation.
If faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the Word of God, then hearing Him isn’t entirely our responsibility, right? When we speak to a person who is hard of hearing, we make the extra effort to lean in and to speak louder. Wouldn’t the Lord do the same for us?
When I was struggling to hear God, I discovered I was having a hard time because there was so much noise and busyness cluttering my heart. I was hectic doing things for His Kingdom, yes, but having a full schedule was drowning out that still, small voice.
Learning to Listen
A new concept was born in my spirit last year at an event where Mart Green shared what He calls the “Holy Spirit to the Power of Three.” First, you hear through the Word, then from the Holy Spirit, and then from happenstance. I had been listening through the Word when the Holy Spirit added His voice.
Almost exactly one year after I had been diagnosed with MS, I was attending the 50th Anniversary celebration of Oral Roberts University. During Chapel the worship team sang “The Great I Am” by Phillips, Craig and Dean. The lyrics prompted me to cry out to God, “What now Lord?”
Immediately I felt an overwhelming sense of the Lord’s Presence, fell on my knees, and God started to talk – this time He was leaning in. He knew I had almost “gone deaf” and desperately needed to hear Him. He answered the questions I had been asking, but not in the way I had expected…
“Everything you’ve done until now—every step, handshake, success, failure, etc.—has led up to what I’m about to do. Then you’ll understand ‘What now?’ The NOW is not about you or your career, but the NOW is about Me, My Word, My Son at this very specific moment in time. So, when you ask Me ‘What now?’ the answer is this: MY WORD. I am about to show you how I want you to spread My Word around the globe. Can you do this for Me?”
I responded “Yes – okay Lord,” and I began to stand up, but heard Him say, “I’m not done.”
He said, “I’m going to change how you think and how you see things. Your ‘now’ is about to change for a very specific assignment. Lean in and look – can you see it? It is My Word around the world. Are you willing to surrender all your plans for Me? Are you willing to join me, and when you turn 65, be able to celebrate, rejoice, and keep going? Tessie, what you need is already there or on its way. I will provide all things.”
I could hardly take it all in – – thinking this message had to do with projects I was involved in at the time, and that the mention of me turning 65 was God encouraging me that MS would not take me down.
Fast-forward to another year later, on October 28, 2016. I went to work at 5:30 a.m. to pray and walk, as was my custom ever since hearing God speak to me at ORU. That morning, He leaned in again and said, “Change is coming, so pay attention – listen.” I had heard through the Word and Holy Spirit, now it was time for part three, the happenstance.
Within 20 minutes, two texts came in from two different friends in different parts of the world. Each said that the Lord had awakened them to pray for me, that change was coming, and that I needed to pay attention and listen. A third text came in before 7:00 a.m. that would change everything…it was a text from Rob Hoskins asking if I had some time to talk. This phone call was the genesis of my transition from where I was working to OneHope.
I turn 65 in November 2030 – and I’m confident I’ll be celebrating the fulfillment of OneHope’s Vision 2030 — to share God’s Word with all the children and youth of the world, with a strategic plan in place to ensure that all future generations will continue to experience the truth of His Word thereafter.
As a believer, leader, Church, ministry, or board, in good times and in bad, we need to ask these questions. We need to lean in and listen “to the power of three.” Dream big, listen well, and know that sometimes the cloud covers our vision before the sun explodes through.