One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led the flock far into the wilderness and came to Sinai, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn’t burn up. “This is amazing,” Moses said to himself. “Why isn’t that bush burning up? I must go see it.” When the LORD saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!”Exodus 3: 1-4
Do these words from the Exodus story stir you? Do they raise a feeling of awe within you? Have you ever heard or read this story and found yourself amazed? Maybe you’ve pondered what it would have been like to be Moses. To see a bonfire blazing within a bush yet nothing turns to ash. Or maybe you think, “gee, it’d be nice if God would just speak to us like that today!” Which sends you on a whole mental rabbit trail about the struggle of discerning how to live as a Christ follower, how to determine what to do and when to do it. Maybe you wish life didn’t feel so much like shooting an arrow in the dark and praying like crazy that it comes somewhere close to hitting its intended mark. Take courage, dear friend. Life is not a shot in the dark and God certainly does still speak.
It was October of 2016 and we found our family, once again, moving for my husband’s work. We’d been living in California for the past eight years and would now be returning home to the Midwest. We set our hearts on providing our kids with all the concrete, urban life had deprived them of – trees, creeks, and land to explore. We found the perfect slice of land and settled for the over the top house situated on it. Sure, it was at the top of our budget, but my husband assured me it was fine (and he’s generally frugal so I figured . . . it was fine). We made an offer, the offer was accepted, and we returned to California to wrap up life and move “home.”
However, virtually as soon as our offer had been accepted my husband became flooded with concern. What had we done? His stress immediately rocketed, and my stomach sank. Uh oh, what had we done?? I lay in bed; on one hand I felt the assuredness of our original choice. We’d made the right choice. On the other hand, I felt concerned for the burden my faithful husband was now feeling. I uttered a simple prayer as I nodded off to bed, “God, whatever I can do to ease his burden; I will do. Just show me.”
The next morning, I was awakened by the sunlight streaming through the windows. That’s when I heard the quiet voice, “open a garage gym,” he said.
It was only just a few years prior that I had even begun working out. That journey too had been led by the Lord and had resulted with me obtaining a CrossFit Level 1 Certificate and becoming a coach at my gym. These were things I had never anticipated doing, or even desired to be a part of. Yet here I was, and now with the Lord telling me to open my own gym! How could I question this direction when I’d gone to bed asking him what to do?! There was really no other response to offer than “yes.”
I began to take what I felt were the first steps. I created a website for this new business. I began pushing information on it to backlog credibility. I tweaked and honed it day after day and continued asking God each day how to build into this business. I wondered about marketing. Though we were returning to where we came from, we were so far removed that we no longer had strong contacts. Additionally, we would be living in an entirely new area of the city. Yet, each day, God would instruct me to blog, pray, and wait. So, I did.
We then made the trek halfway across the country in mid-November. With the move into our new home the panic thickened. Every day the house was like a noose tightening around my hubby’s neck. I tried to assure him that this was the Lord’s plan. When we chose this home, we felt a certainty that God had work for us that specifically involved it. Yet living in the waiting always makes it easy to lose sight and hope. As the expense began to weigh on him, the overall excess of its size also began to chew on him. Why were we wasting all this money and space? For what? The promise of a gym gave him a little peace. This would at least alleviate the financial stress he felt. Yet, what was I doing to start this gym I’d told him the Lord had asked me to open?
I knew this question was coming, but I diligently did my best to dodge it like the plague! I didn’t want to answer his questions about what marketing efforts I had or had not made? Or whatmy plan was for acquiring clients? Or worse, if I understood that clients would not fall from the sky or simply stroll down our half mile driveway to find my gym? And, I totally get it! These are super practical and legitimate business questions to ask. So, I was obviously concerned he would not like my answer. Frankly, even I knew my answer was nuts at best! But, in addition to the savvy business advice the Lord had given me (blog, pray, and wait), he had also told me one more thing. He said, “you’ll have clients in January.”
Of course, it would happen that my dear husband would ask these dreadful questions at an inescapable moment – during a five-hour drive home from visiting my in-laws! As the questions rolled off his tongue, I sat in the passengers seat, praying my brains out! Then I answered ever so faintly while staring out the window (not daring to see his visible reaction), “I know this is going to sound crazy, but I’ve really prayed about it and God has told me to do nothing. He said to just blog and pray and that I’ll have clients in January.” <Insert tangible cricket sounds here!> “And, I figure, I’m better off obeying him in what I think I heard than in trying to do it my way. And, if I didn’t actually hear him right, and don’t have clients at the end of January, then I’ll take other steps. But I think obedience to what I think I heard is best.” <Insert more tangible cricket sounds!>
He really couldn’t argue. So, we waited. I kept blogging on my business page and praying. And during the month of December I bumped into an old acquaintance at Target in the checkout line (this is an entirely different story about God speaking to me). I then bumped into her at Christmas Eve service. And then, in the very first days of January, I received a message from her, “I’m looking for personal training. These are my goals. Will you train me?” We’d not talked about my new business at all. I’d actually thought it was a waste of breath because she was a trainer at a local boutique gym. Nevertheless, here she was. The answer of God’s word to me.
This is where I could ramble off a list of what I call all the “because of’s.” Because I listened, because I obeyed, because she asked, because . . . but really . . . because GOD SPEAKS.
Because he told me it would be, and I believed him for his word. Just as any other healthy, caring relationship you have, God desires intimacy with you which requires conversation. It may not be a burning bush, but that doesn’t make it any less his voice to you. Describe it however most makes sense to you – after all it is your experience. But know, just because Moses heard from God in, literally, loud and flashy ways doesn’t mean that’s how you will hear. Or that he’s not speaking.
For me, He is quiet and uncommon. His voice is gentle and his words are generally contrary to my natural bend. Hearing from God is not just for Moses, or for the Old Testament, or the New Testament for that matter, or even just for people who are really holy. Hearing from God is for anyone who would choose to draw near to him with a sincere heart. I truly believe, as much as we long to hear from him, he longs to speak to us.
As in all relational ventures, it takes time and effort to learn who it is you’re speaking with to be able to clearly distinguish their voice. But, friends, it’s because of his voice in my life that the gym, Frank Fitness, has been transforming lives (including mine) for the past threeyears! It is a business that stands as an indisputable testimony to the fact that God still speaks. If only we are willing to listen and obey.