(By Lois Robinson)
A question I get asked a lot is, “How do I learn to hear God’s voice?” It happens to be the same question I had years ago. Through the years I have learned there are many teachings on how to hear God’s voice, how to discern His voice over the enemy’s voice and so forth. All are very important to learn. James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
I have learned by spending time with Him, much like spending time with a best friend or family member, you tend to learn the sound of their voice. A good example of this is when that person calls you, it would be silly if they actually identified themselves. You usually know the sound of their voice because of the close relationship you have cultivated.
But, there is another way I have learned to discern God’s voice, and as the title of this blog reads, it involves a cool little story about a great man of God named Hoppy, an oyster boat, and lights on pilings down at the pier at night!
Way back when I was a young adult, 27-28 maybe, I remember serving in the role of the organist at Deerfield Methodist church. One weekend a Revival Service was held and the evangelist was a man by the name of Wilbur Hoffman. His nickname was “Hoppy”. Boy did he preach! What he shared, I have never forgotten. I am 51 years old now and I still hold on to what he said that night. Here goes:
By trade, he ran an oyster boat down at Port Norris, NJ. At night, when he came in off the sea gathering oysters, he had to make sure his lights lined up. What he meant was quite literally the lights on the pilings at the port. He then proceeded to draw a set of 8 circles, each representing a light on a piling. There were 2 circles drawn on the top, about 5 inches apart, then 2 more below them, again 5 inches apart and so forth. This image was to give the appearance of the lighted port that his boat had to navigate through in order to dock. Something like this:
I was fascinated by what he was saying. He explained that when he would come in at night, naturally he would not be able to see in order to navigate steering his boat into the port safely, without damaging it. So the lights on the pilings were crucial in order to pull in safely to dock. He then went on to use this example to explain his analogy of how to hear God’s voice.
Each of the above lights were labeled with some specific things:
O O - God speaks through His Word
O O - God speaks through Prayer
O O - God speaks through His People
O O - God speaks through Circumstances
Here is a practical example of how I used this in order to discern God’s voice in my own life. Back in the mid 90's, I had just completed my Bachelor’s in Youth Ministry from Eastern University, then Eastern College. :) My Youth Ministry professors told me I should go back to grad school to get my Masters in Counseling. I said I didn’t think so but would pray about it. They apparently were discerning something God was saying about my life, but I sure was not seeing it! I honestly thought, “There is no way I’m heading back to school, nor do I have any money to do something like that!” Well, I prayed, “God, if this is what You want, then You better help me find out about this counseling thing!” I was in the Bridgeton Bible Book Store, which is now gone, and Miss Tammy Vaughn was in there. I had no idea who she was, but she hollered across the store to me, recognizing me from Eastern. She was a counseling student at Eastern and proceeded to tell me about the program. I couldn’t believe that God did this!
So as the events began to unfold, reading scripture, praying, circumstances, His people. All my lights were lining up. So, I went to the Eastern College parking lot with the Grad School Counseling Program application in my hand. I prayed, “God, if I am NOT supposed to do this, CLOSE the door. If I am supposed to do this, let me get in with flying colors.” That was my actual prayer. I soon received a letter saying I was welcomed into their program. I then discerned that I was “pulling my boat safely into port because my lights did indeed line up.”
That was the start of God revealing one of my greatest passions in serving Him. I am so thankful for God’s voice. I would be lost without Him. Truth and Light counseling was born three years later. Amen