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Hearing voices in the closet.

If I have to be in the closet at church about the fact that God talks to me, then there is something profoundly wrong going on. Church should be the one place where you can safely and unselfconsciously talk about how God interacts with you. You walk on a thin edge if you talk about God at work or at the dentist office or at Wal-Mart, but church? You should be safe there. You shouldn’t be silenced there.

Yet that is exactly what has happened to me. Now, perhaps the priest was concerned because I’m bipolar. Perhaps she is afraid that I’m not in fact hearing from God. I understand this concern. I wrestled with it for years. For many years I doubted what I heard and knew. I doubted my experiences. I doubted God. And yet it was proven to me again and again that I wasn’t making this stuff up.

The Biblical test for prophets is to see if what they say God told them was going to happen actually happened. I passed that test. Repeatedly. God proved himself to me. God was far more patient with me than I ever would imagine.

It is very important to me to not lead people astray. The church has enough loonies. I didn’t need to add to their ranks. So I understand the priest’s fear. I had it too. And I worked through it. But she didn’t know the stories of when God talked to me and how He proved Himself. She hadn’t been there.

She told me that talking about God was “a conversation stopper” because “other people weren’t having that experience.” This should have been my cue to leave. This was in November, when she told me the deacon discernment process was put on hold for me. Hopefully you catch the irony here. If you are in the deacon discernment process, it is because you believe you are experiencing a call from God.

So it is OK to get a call from God. Just don’t answer, and certainly don’t tell anybody if you got a reply.

I waited, and watched to see how others in church communicate about their experiences with God. And I realized in the three years that I have been there, not a single person has talked about how God talks to them. Not a single person has mentioned that they even prayed to God.

Maybe they do talk to God in prayer, and in prayers of their own words rather than the pre-written prayers of the prayer book. Maybe they do hear from God, and in more than just the already recorded words in the Bible. But they sure don’t talk about it. Why not? Church should be a safe place to talk about such things. Church should be a place where we can have a conversation with God, not a monologue about God. And it should be a place where we can share our experiences with others.

Perhaps they forgot that the entire faith started with Abraham talking to God. Perhaps they forgot Samuel, David, Gideon, Elijah, Elisha, Isaac, Moses, Jacob, Solomon, Noah, Joseph, Mary, and Jesus all talked with God. If the entire religion is based on a person talking to God and so many following people doing the same, then why are we discouraged from being part of that?

God is real. God is constantly communicating with us. We just are too distracted to notice. We fill our heads with the noise of television and iPods and videogames. When God is somehow able to get a word in edgewise we ignore it as a trick of our minds or we think we are going crazy. Or worse, we are told to ignore it by the very people we should expect would be experts at knowing how to deal with it.

I’m not special. I’ve just learned how to cut out the noise. God wants you to hear from Him too. I’ll try to write further about how to hear from God. But I know that the first thing you must do is give God a space. Make some silent time. Be alone with God.

It is crazy to follow God. And it is beautiful and amazing. God knows so much more than I could ever know. My life has changed dramatically since I started trusting that voice. It is calmer. I trust that God is in control. I know that whatever happens is meant to happen.

But to not be able to talk about God in church, aside from what is scripted in the prayer book or in the Bible? Now, that really is crazy.

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