Does God Speak to Me?

The other day, I was asked this question: “Have you ever heard God speak to you?”

I thought about it for a second and then replied, “If I answered with anything other than ‘no,’ would you believe me?”

I’m thinking about this now because it encapsulates one of the major problems that I have when I talk about my faith: I’m not sure I would have believed me.

I want my faith to make sense. Things would be so much easier if I could rationally, scientifically understand God. I used to believe this was possible.

I was taught that “pure Christianity” was a rational belief system, that, if you really thought about it, it all made perfect sense.

  • We could trust the Bible because it could be verified independently. The archeological and historical record corroborated what it had to say.1
  • Jesus was a historical figure; sources outside the Bible verify his existence.
  • A “plain and simple” reading of scripture proves that Jesus is really the son of God because he fulfills all the prophecies from the Old Testament.

Basically, I believed that with enough study, you could make a purely rational, academic case for believing in God. The God of my youth was one of the enlightenment. He was real because his existance could be historically proven.

I had a view of God completely devoid of the supernatural.

Sure, I believed in miracles. They were recorded in scripture, so they happened. But what about modern miracles? Well, God doesn’t work that way anymore. In the modern world, he “heals” people through doctors and medicine. He answers prayers, just not in an obvious way. He does speak to us. Just only through the Bible, not by actually talking to us.

I remember being in college and talking to a friend who believed God told him to leave school and travel to a different state. I thought this person was nuts. God doesn’t just talk to people like that. This is the same reaction I had to people who claimed to be healed, people who had (shudder) claimed to have a demon cast out of them, people who spoke in tongues, etc. It all sounded absolutely crazy.

My “faith” was an intellectual exercise.

Has God ever spoken to me?

Ok, I’ll answer if you promise not to think I’m crazy.


I mean no.

I mean maybe.

I mean, I don’t know. There are moments in my life, where it’s possible that God was speaking to me. It’s also entirely possible that he wasn’t, and I’m not sure I can really tell the difference.

There was this one time, I was in my early 20s, I was at my parent’s house, alone. I saw a news story about something to do with abortion. I don’t remember if it was about the rate incresing or decreasing, or something else entirely. What I do remember is that I was suddenly overcome with extreme sadness. I wept. Hard. It felt like the weight of everything wrong in the world was dropped on me. There were babies being born that weren’t wanted. There were women who were being denied critical medical care and being demonized. There were two sides of people vigirously arguing with each other, hating each other. And so much more was wrong, and I couldn’t take it, and I bawled like a baby.

I never cry. Things don’t typically affect me emotionally. But there I was, weeping. And then it stopped. It went away. And I knew, in that instant, that was the sadness that God felt. He shared his sorrow with me for just a moment.

Or did he? Looking back, maybe those events really touched me. Maybe I was sad about everything because there’s plenty to be sad about. Maybe what happened in that moment is I thought that God must feel sadness like this when he looks at our world. Maybe it wasn’t God, but just me. I don’t know.

There are more examples, but I’m already over 600 words. The point is, my faith has grown to include God actually working in this world and actually interacting with people, myself included. But, like everything else about my faith, my rational brain still questions whether this really happens. It is this uncertainty that holds me back from sharing these stories. It also holds me back from really counting them as part of my view of the world.

I do believe in God. I do believe he works in this world. I do believe he speaks to me. I’m just very aware that it sounds silly and makes me look foolish. Beacuse it sounds silly to me.

  1. And if it didn’t, it was only because the archeological record was incomplete. 

Reconstructing Faith

Prelude to Deconstruction

I’ll never forget 2010. That was a major growth year for me. It began with the fizzling out of the startup that I co-founded. I had a lot of mixed emotions about that at the time. On one hand, it was the end of my dream.

My dream was to lead a technology startup. As a child, I was enamored with the stories of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and others involved in the PC revolution of the 1970s and 1980s. I wanted to be like them, I wanted to do what they did. That opportunity came for me in 2007. I was three years into my first real programming job. A co-worker and I decided to take the plunge and build a business and some cool technology. It was an exciting time. The next 2 and half years were some of the most challenging and fun times of my life.

Fast-forward to December 2009. We’re closing down the business because we don’t have any more money, and we aren’t making enough money to keep the lights on. That dream was over. But it was going to be ok. 2010 was just about to start, and with the new year came an opportunity for new beginnings.

At the time, I thought that the year would be about discovering a new business venture. What really happened that year, is that I started re-discovering God.

A Flashback Within a Flashback

There was never a time in my life where I didn’t know about God. I was raised a Christian. From an early age I could recite large portions of scripture.1 I knew that faith was very important to my parents. They talked about spiritual things often, and they lived it out. My dad was very deliberate in teaching me not just what he believed, but why he believed what he believed. A lot of it made sense to me. I didn’t fully understand some things, but I trusted my dad. He was a smart guy, and if it made sense to him, that was good enough for me. I was confident that if I put the time and effort into studying that everything we believed would make perfect sense.

Back to 2010

I never left the faith. There was never a period of time when I didn’t believe in God.2 There were definitely times when I was more indifferent about faith, times when I just coasted along. The past few years were one of those periods. I focused on the startup to the exclusion of pretty much everything else. With the startup now gone, God took the opportunity to interrupt my life.

Three main things happened to me in 2010 (four, if you count the demise of the startup):

  • I was asked to join a men’s spiritual formation group
  • I went on a mission trip to serve the Village of Hope in Ghana
  • I read some exciting and challenging spiritual books

The spiritual formation group introduced me to a whole new world of experiencing God. My faith up to this point had been mostly intellectual. Now, I was up at 5:00am every morning, meditating, reading scripture, listening to God, just being with God.

The Ghana trip reset my priorities. The Village of Hope is a children’s orphanage and school just outside the capital city of Accra. I was able to witness the amazing things that are happening there, and I put my worries and concerns in their proper place.

The books that I read spoke to me in ways I didn’t anticipate. I suddenly became bothered by the beliefs I held but didn’t understand. Some of these books helped me come to new, better understandings, but there were many of my beliefs that just didn’t make any sense to me. And, for the first time in my life, it really bothered me.

This God, the one that I had known about my whole life, the one that I was just really starting to get to know more personally, the one that I had seen in action in west Africa, said and did a lot of things in the Bible that just didn’t make any sense.

The Deconstruction Begins

I don’t have a good timeline of the next few years, but I was a very different person by the end of 2010.

I knew that God was alive and active in this world. I had experienced him at home in my quiet times and abroad at the Village of Hope. But my understanding of him was inadequate. Parts of my theology didn’t make sense to me anymore, and I no longer had the faith that it would one day make sense.

There was a period of time where I could easily articulate what I no longer believed, and why, but I would struggle to come up with anything that I actually believed in. My faith had been deconstructed.

Reconstructing Faith

Over the past few years, I’ve been filling in the gaps. I’ve read a lot of books, asked a lot of questions, read a lot of scripture, and just thought a lot. I’m not confident to say that I’ve put all the pieces back together, but I’m on that path. My problem now is that I still struggle to articulate what I believe and why. I’ve thought a lot about it, but I think I need to start writing it down.

This web site is a tool for me to catalog this journey. Some of the things I write here will be me spelling out things I’ve come to believe. Other posts will be me working through concepts.

I’m doing this as a public web site, because it’s the only way to motivate me to actually write this stuff down. Maybe it will be beneficial to others, but the primary audience for this site is its author.

That said, I welcome thoughtful comments and honest questions, so if you would like to join me in this journey, please come along.

  1. There’s a cassette tape with a recording of a 3-year old Ted reciting Psalm 23 somewhere at my Mom’s house. 
  2. A lot of that is due to my personality. I may write more about this later.