Once upon a time, I wanted to hear the voice of God.

The charismatic Christian community that introduced me to Jesus expected him to speak, vividly and verbally, today. While my prayer life generally consists of squinting my eyes and listening for some echo of a divine voice beneath my own thoughts, I can testify that they were right. A bare handful of times in my life, I have heard words that came, speech-like, unbidden into my mind.

Unfortunately, some of the times God's voice has been clearest have been times when I disobeyed.

During my senior year of college, I was precariously in love. After a few intense months of courtship, my beloved moved to Boston, and I was desperate to follow her. Good Christian that I was, I decided to pray for guidance. As I sat on my bed with my eyes shut tight, two words formed insistently in my brain: "Don't go."

What was this? Clearly, I thought, fears of romantic commitment were welling up from my subconscious. And why would God say, "Don't go," without saying where to go? I decided to pray more intently. "Lord, I really want you to lead me—"

Interrupting my prayers, I heard two and only two words: "Don't go." The voice, entirely clear though not physically audible, was neither harsh nor yielding.

I stopped praying, since the truth was I had already made up my mind. I moved to Boston. A few weeks later, I walked out of my beloved's apartment into a driving snowstorm. Wisely, she had ended our relationship.

Every evangelical has a testimony—mine just runs in reverse. Jesus did not save me from a life of notorious disobedience. When I started my conscious Christian life at age 13, I was a happy, if innocent, Pharisee. But since meeting Jesus, I have become ever more convinced of my deadly propensity ...

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Always in Parables
Andy Crouch
Andy Crouch is an editor at large for Christianity Today. Before working for CT, Crouch was chief of re:generation quarterly, a magazine which won the Utne Reader's Alternative Press Award for spiritual coverage in 1999. He was formerly a campus minister with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Harvard University. Crouch and his wife, Catherine, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard, have two children. His column, "Always in Parables," ran from 2001 to 2006.
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