Hearing God in Unexpected Places

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'”  Isaiah 30:21

Portland, Oregon; sometime in 2003.

I was beginning my weekday as I often do when I’m on the road for work.  On the hunt for coffee.  Little did I know that this morning was going to be quite different.

I would like to say I was just sitting in a coffee house on NW 23rd having a quiet time with God before getting into the flow of the day….but I wasn’t just sitting.  I was wrestling.  I had reached a point of exhaustion with my back and forth compulsion that many men struggle with.  Porn.

When I began my walk with God, He had either instantly or fairly quickly transformed my mindset, speech and attitude in many areas.  But porn still had it’s hooks in me and it had for years.  It started with Playboy magazine at my buddy’s house in second or third grade and grew from there.  After becoming a Christian, I would have seasons of success in this area of my life.  Looking back though, I can see how I would use it as a coping mechanism.  When I was lonely, down or stressed it was my drug of choice.

Back to the coffee shop….

It was a busy morning and the shop was bustling with the northwestern crowd coming in to escape the rain.  We were all in need of our caffeine fix.  While many exchanged pleasantries or read the paper (yes an actual newspaper), I was having a heart to heart conversation with God.  Actually, it was more of me just talking at God….’God, I’m sorry.  How many times do we have to keep having this talk?  I’m so upset at myself that I went back to that again.  I’m sick of this….’  Then out of the blue, a voice, clear as day cut through my self-pity/prayer.  Above the noise I heard this statement very directly:  “You need to talk to someone about this.”  That’s it.  Nothing else was said.  No further direction.  I silently laughed to myself and responded, “What do you mean?  To who?  I don’t know anyone here….”

As that last sentence wafted up to the ceiling of my consciousness, my attention was immediately drawn to a voice behind me.  A man I hadn’t heard or noticed previously was on his phone….praying for someone….

I sat in stunned silence for a few seconds….”Okay Lord, I get it….”

I waited until he finished his phone call and tried to maintain my composure.  Slowly turning around, I could feel my eyes already beginning to well with tears when I said, “This might sound strange but I think I need to talk with you.”  He paused for a second or two, looked at me quizzically and said, “Okay….how can I help?”

I went on to explain my struggle to a complete stranger….and that’s when class began.  You see, he was a Christian missionary, back in the States for a brief sabbatical before heading back overseas and into the mission field.  He talked to me about the art of spiritual warfare and explained the spiritual strongholds the enemy had set up in my life.  He then asked if, by Jesus’ authority and in His name, I had ever verbally commanded them to leave.  I had not.  Right there in the coffee house, he said, “repeat these words after me…out loud.  You have to say them out loud because they can’t hear your thoughts.

I wasn’t going to argue.  I immediately agreed and off we went.  Neither his words nor demeanor were anything sensational or dramatic (which I appreciated).  It was all very calm and matter of fact.  The missionary prayed and I followed his lead.  Using the authority that Christ has bestowed on those He has saved, I began to command these spirits to leave and go into the pit, never to return.

And these signs will accompany those who believe; in my name they will cast out demons;”  Mark 16:17

It didn’t matter that the place was packed.  During that time it felt like it was just he and I going to battle.  He explained that true Christians can’t be “possessed” as the Holy Spirit lives in us, but we can be demonized, through compromise in our lives or unconfessed sin.

The lesson I learned that day, I have applied countless times since.  Whenever I discern a spiritual attack or subtle demonic influence going on around me or in my life,  I will follow the same example.  Again, it’s not drama filled, or sensational but very matter of fact and to the point.  For me, the physical sensation has always been the same.  Maybe others have had a similar experience?  It has always felt like layers are being lifted or peeled off of me.  After the first layer lifts, the rest follow in rapid succession.

So the next time you pray about something going on in your life, make sure you are listening for God’s response.  It may just happen in a place or way you would never expect….

“I sought to hear the voice of God and climbed to the topmost steeple; but God declared ‘Go down again, I dwell among the people.'”  John Henry Newman

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