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God in the Less Obvious

“God usually was found in the less obvious.”

This quote from a novel I just finished* caught my attention. Throughout my life I’ve wanted God to speak to me in broad, sweeping tones; to write on a blackboard His will for me, the best decision to make, His wisdom. Seldom has He done that.

Rather, His Spirit has spoken in the stillness of my heart, and/or through His Word, and sometimes told me to make the less obvious choice.

When I considered ministering in the ghetto, the more obvious choice would "Lead me, teach me"have been to remain in safe suburbia, teach Sunday School, perhaps lead a Bible study (and I’ve done those things too). But not this time. The nudge I heard was “If not you, who?” And I learned so much in those ten years in the inner city…about myself, about stretching my boundaries for safety and security, about the God who was there.

When I was engaged to a great guy, but felt no peace, the less obvious choice was to trust God, break the engagement, and deal with the consequences. And I did, waiting another thirteen years for the gift of marriage.

Sometimes God’s voice has been quite clear. “Do this, talk to that person, pray for her…now.” Often it’s a quieter sense, a prompting that I can, and sometimes do, choose to ignore. If I follow the urge to pray aloud for my troubled manicurist, will he reject my prayer and resent me? Will writing that letter of forgiveness renew old scabs and cause more pain rather than bringing release? Obedience is often stepping out in faith, believing that nudge is from the Holy Spirit, trusting Him with the outcome.

And sometimes when I think I’ve royally blown it, God still brings good. Years ago, I took a high school gal from our Young Life group to a basketball game. Although I’d promised to have her home by a specific time, she ended up having drug flashbacks in the car near her home. I couldn’t send her into the house like that. When her father came looking for us, he was furious. What could I say? I hardly slept that night, confessing my sin of not keeping my word. Finally I determined to call her home at 10:30 and ask forgiveness, then fell into a fitful sleep.

At 10:15 I was called to the phone and, yes, Lisa’s father was on the line — apologizing to me! In spite of me, God brought good out of my mistake. I continued to minister to Lisa, and her family and I became close friends.

Lead me; teach me; for you are the God who gives me salvation. I have no hope except in you.” Psalm 25:5,TLB.

How do you hear God’s voice?

  • Veil of Secrets, Shannon Ethridge and Kathryn Mackel




  1. Karen O'Connor says:

    What a beautiful personal experience, Carol. I am blessed to read it.

    1. carolnl says:

      Thank you, Karen. Sometimes my faith feels so small, and yet God is continually so very faithful and true. I’m thankful!

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