“We are moving in the spring.”
This message from my wife, Erin, popped up on my iPhone screen as I sat in my home office worshipping God with the song “Way Maker.”
I had set aside some time that day for fasting and prayer as I reflected upon our next move as a family. We were still in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, and while it had been an awful few months of community separation and watching friends and family get sick or even pass away, it had also opened some doors that would turn out to be huge blessings.
Being forced to slow down and spend time away from the stress and craziness of working multiple jobs, one of which was as the co-lead pastor of a local church, we began to feel God nudging us in a new direction.
The truth is, we weren’t happy. My blood pressure had hit 180 / (some number too scary to remember), I was burned out from years of a difficult ministry, I was exhausted from working extra part-time jobs to make ends meet, and I simply had nothing left to give.
After some open and honest conversations, my wife and I admitted to each other that we simply couldn’t keep doing what we had been doing. During our isolation we saw what life could be without all the craziness, and we wanted more of it. We began to dream of what our next steps could be and dedicated ourselves to prayer and action to make it happen.
Rather quickly, we settled on St. Petersburg, Florida as our next home where we could dedicate ourselves fully to our Ruah Space ministry. We loved the idea of living near the beach, the up-and-coming feel of the city, the diversity of the neighborhoods, the opportunities for our kids, and the chance to live the life we truly desired.
The only question was, how and when would we make the move?
Erin and I have a rule about big decisions: We must be in complete agreement. This is an important part of our process because it guarantees that no matter what happens we will be together in it. Good or bad, wherever we are going, we will arrive on the same team. We talk, we pray, and we each listen to God, our feelings, and our stories to discover what the next right step might be.
At the time Erin sent the text message saying, “we are moving in the spring,” I believed I needed to continue doing what I was doing for a couple more years to make sure we had enough money to take such a leap. I knew I couldn’t keep doing what I was doing but I also felt I couldn’t take such a risky step without a clear invitation from God to do so.
Her text message changed all of that in a matter of minutes.
Now, that might sound extreme, but it’s what I have gotten used to. I believe God is still speaking today and I have gotten to know over the years what it feels like, sounds like, and looks like when God speaks to me. It’s usually a combination of a message through my wife, a feeling in my body, and a sense of peace in my mind.
When my wife sent me the text message, she was in the middle of a training video where the speaker took a few minutes to talk about God’s calling. The presenter shared that when God invites us to take a step in a new direction, or when we are sensing a call from God on our lives, we should follow that call and trust God to supply what we need. It was very much like Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 6:33 (see below) to seek first God’s Kingdom and righteousness and everything else we need will be provided.
Erin was in the midst of a time of listening closely to her own feelings, paying attention to her thought patterns, opening as much as possible to the voice of God, and making intentional space for a clear answer. It all came together for her at this moment.
For me, her text message came while I was worshipping God through song and fasting. Fasting has a way of clearing off the cluttered table of our minds and hearts and making space to hear God’s voice and see God’s movement. I was primed to hear a word from God.
So, when that message came through, and my wife expressed such certainty in the timing of the move, I felt something shift inside me. God was telling me that I didn’t need all the answers. I was never going to see how everything would unfold and ensure it all went smoothly. I was being invited to trust and take the step.
So, we did. We sold our house, I resigned from my jobs, and we moved. I am so grateful that we did. I feel better, I’m doing work that I love, and I feel more peace than I have in a long time. Making a little intentional space to listen and trust opened doors I couldn’t have previously imagined possible.
I share this story because I believe God is still speaking today.
God speaks through people in our lives, feelings we have, thoughts in our minds, Scripture, music, and so many other ways. How does God speak to you and how can you make some intentional space to hear God’s voice even better?
It might just change your life!
Pastor Phil Vestal
The following posts reveal the experiences of others who have heard and responded to God’s calling:
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Don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. (NLT) (Matthew 6:31-33)