By Tuesday evening, she had collected a laundry basket FULL of clothes, toys, and stuffed animals, and was planning to gather more on Wednesday morning. Before breakfast on Wednesday, she and I were reading our Bibles (she joins me three days per week at the table, as she does her ROAD Map Bible study). As soon as she read her verses for the day, she said, "Hey! This is exactly what I've been doing!" The verses were 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, which encourage us to give freely and generously, in order to bless others.
Hannah thought it was a neat coincidence that what she had already been doing (collecting things to give away) was what she read about (and she was happy to have an easy application for the day's reading). I told her that I thought what happened was a big deal. How? I explained that I think that it was the Holy Spirit who had spoken directly to her heart days earlier, and that this reading confirmed that it really was something that God wanted her to do. Sometimes when we have thoughts in our head, we may not always know if they are from us or from God. For the majority of us, most of the clear direction we receive from God is from Scripture and from a community of believers, not from Him speaking directly to us. I rejoiced with Hannah and encouraged her that God spoke to her heart, and that she obeyed, and then God confirmed His words to her.
I have shared with my children the few times in my life that I heard directly from God, when He wanted to give me specific direction. These include:
- During the closing days of my athletic career at Furman, in a difficult losing season, I asked God, "Why should I continue working hard? I basically all finished here." Immediately, I heard a voice in my head saying, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men" (from Colossians 3:23). I later discovered how God used my time on the team to be a testimony for Him to others.
- More than 10 years ago, I was serving in a ministry that required hours of work every single weekend (Saturday night and Sunday afternoon), and could often get very monotonous. I asked one evening as I was cleaning up, "God, how much longer will I be doing this?" I heard Him say, "Just pour yourself out. This won't go on forever." Within a year, that ministry opportunity was completed.
- Two years into my marriage, I felt like God was wanting something more from me, to be able to pour myself out for a short period of time. The immediate thought was "Mission Trip," which I had always been set against me doing. But I took steps of faith and God kept opening doors. In March 2003, I went on my first overseas mission trip to Nicaragua, an experience that such a blessing for me.
-- Joey Espinosa