I’ve never heard God’s audible voice, but last year He came pretty close.
On Valentine’s Day 2018, my cousin was visiting from out of town, and after a family dinner, he made a random suggestion: “Have you ever thought about taking your articles about marriage and making a book out of them?”
The idea seemed so far-fetched. My dad had just died, I was constantly drained from working overtime, and I was depressed. But my cousin insisted, so we kicked around some ideas for what a book on marriage might look like.
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Three days later, I shared a piece about marriage on FoxNews.com, and a reader contacted me to thank me for writing it. “I think you should write a book with all of your articles,” he wrote. “It will certainly help a lot of couples.”
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It caught me off-guard — that was two people in three days making the same suggestion. Maybe God was up to something.
An hour later, I called one of the editors at FoxNews.com and asked him to make a small change to my marriage piece. After he did so, his comment stunned me: “Have you ever thought about taking your articles and making a book out of them?”
At that point, I was certain that God was at work.
If there was any doubt about it, it was cleared up shortly afterward when I emailed a friend and told him I believed God wanted me to write a book about marriage. The problem, I explained, was that I needed a book agent.
Thirty minutes later, I got an email from a reputable agent who read my piece while sitting in an airport. He wanted to represent me to write my first book.
I was dumbfounded. Three people in three days had suggested I write a book on marriage, and on the heels of that, an agent asked to represent me.
I looked up from my phone and said to my wife Raquel: “This is crazy. I’m going to write a book about marriage.”
More than a year later, Raquel and I finally made it through the exhausting effort that it took to produce “Confessions of a Happily Married Man: Finding God in the Messiness of Marriage,” which will be released next month. Countless times, we said we could’ve never survived the process if God hadn’t given us so much confirmation.
The thing is, though, that’s not the way He normally operates.
Raquel and I have asked God to give us perfect clarity on so many things over the years: major purchases; out-of-state moves; deciding where to go to church; and with so many critical forks in the road. He didn’t give us signs; instead, He made us use the tools He’s provided to help us hear Him.
God speaks to Raquel and me through Scripture, His Holy Spirit and other believers. With Scripture, sometimes it’s totally clear (for example, don’t lie). Other times, He simply prompts us to remain focused on Him in the midst of decision-making.
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For example, He reminds us of His love when we meditate on a scripture like Psalm 121:8: “The Lord will keep you from all harm — He will watch over your life.” Basically, God’s Holy Spirit “guides us into all truth,” as it says in John 16:13, and the Spirit also speaks through godly advice from fellow believers.
When it came to writing “Confessions,” I think God overtly gave Raquel and me signs because He knew how weak we were (and apparently because He wanted the book to be written).
He knew we didn’t have the faith or perseverance to keep going as the months of writing and editing dragged on. He was going to have to override our weakness by pulling back the curtain in a way He never had before.
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Raquel and I would like it if God gave unmistakable confirmations every time we came to a critical decision point.
But like any good dad, He wants you and me to learn how to become sensitive enough to the Holy Spirit that “whether you turn to the right or the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’” (Isaiah 30:21).