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How do you know when God is speaking? It’s one of those questions posed to ministers such as myself all the time. People expect us to know the answer. We expect ourselves to know the answer to that question also, but we don’t. Not really. We do know the answer perhaps, but not well enough that it makes sense to anyone other than ourselves.

One thing I do know is that listening for God is no ordinary listening. It involves what the writer Maria Harris refers to as “thick listening,” the capacity to identify the important, life-giving sounds that signal to us that we’d be wise to sit up and pay attention.

I recall the first time I felt my daughter kicking and stirring inside my womb, around the second trimester of pregnancy. I was in my study at home, typing on my computer. I stopped typing in mid-sentence and lost that thought. I was mystified and petrified, fascinated and horrified, by the sensation of a human knocking around inside me. The sensation of new life stirring in the womb is called quickening. But that morning was not the first time my daughter quickened inside me. She’d been thumping and knocking about inside me for weeks before, since conception I’m told. But I didn’t know it. By the time she made her presence felt that morning, around the fifth or sixth month, she’d grown large enough inside to become an undeniable force. It’s a similar sort of feeling when you feel twinges of something yet unnamed knocking about within you, evolving and stretching into being, causing you to feel restless. Voices within you have been knocking about for sometime trying to get your attention. It’s just taken some time for you to notice. And now that you have noticed, listen carefully. It may just be the divine reaching out to you saying: sit up and pay attention.

Describe experiences in your life when you’ve felt “this just has to be God.”

–Renita Weems

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