In other posts, I’ve talked about my conversion, talking myself out of my conversion, investigating eastern religions, and finally returning to Christianity. Soon after deciding to re-investigate Christianity, I ran into one of Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW’s) and got entangled with them for six months. I will spare you a long description of that little foray. One important thing happened through my time with JW’s: I began devouring the Bible. Ironically, reading the Bible also played a big role in my decision to leave JW’s. Two other things had a big impact: 1) Reading, How to Rescue Your Loved One from the Watchtower by David Reed; 2) A Christian I was debating said that Old Testament prohibitions about blood have nothing to do with the morality of blood transfusions (as JW’s teach); they picture Christ who would shed His blood for us. His comments lit a fuse in my mind. Scripture after scripture about blood lit up in a fiery chain until the meaning of the cross exploded in my mind. The next day, I called my JW mentor and explained I was leaving the organization.
Leaving JW’s didn’t solve my problems, however. It led to a new crisis of faith. Since I started reading the Bible, I was struck by the fact that God talked to people. Over the years, I’d heard people say God “talked” to them through circumstances they interpreted after the fact. But in the Bible, God talked to people using plain words. The more I read about it, the more troubled I became. I didn’t have real conversations with God or hear Him speak. I decided I was lacking something in my walk. I began earnestly asking God to speak to me. This became even more important after leaving JW’s. If God didn’t speak to me, I couldn’t know the truth. Without God telling me what was true, it was only one person’s or group’s interpretation of scripture verses another’s. After months of seeking Him, I finally heard Him. I was sick that night, so sick I almost didn’t pray. But I decided to pray for a bit. In no time at all, I was enveloped by a presence, and I heard words inside: “Stop trying so hard, and just trust me.” In that moment, my sore throat and fever left me. I also realized that I had heard God’s voice before but hadn’t recognized it (1 Sam. 3:6-7).
I continue to hear God’s voice. Prayer is a conversation. The conversation is something that can be tested by the Bible. Does my conversation with God resonate with conversations others have had? Does it square with what God has said across many centuries, cultures, and locations? And what do all these conversations with God, including mine, amount to? What is this truth that is beyond any human interpretation? Hebrews 1:1-3 captures it: “Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. […] The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word.” Jesus Christ, the Son, is God’s full word, the sum of every conversation between God and humans. We often remark that words fail us. Only Jesus is the exact expression of God’s nature. God may speak at different times and in different ways to each of us. But if our conversations with God don’t lead us to the Son then they have lost their use; they have become irrelevant to the divine economy. As God told Peter–“This is My Son, the Chosen One. Listen to Him!” (Luke 9:35).