Does God Speak into Even the Hardest Places?
By Tara Dickson
Hear Him Louder Essay Series: Tara's Story
The first time I remember the Lord speaking directly to my heart, my 10-day-old son was lying in a hospital bed with RSV. Because of insurance our pediatrician was having to use a hospital unfamiliar with who he was. At one point there was a major disagreement between the staff and our doctor on what medicine should be used.
God intervened miraculously by a phone ringing in the room we weren’t even checked into. It was a friend who “happened” to know this drug well and encouraged us to use it.
Something changed in my heart that day.
I went from knowing about Jesus and wanting to follow Him, to KNOWING that He was intimately acquainted with each of us. Now I knew He desired to be involved in every facet of my life. I could be a friend of God.
I didn’t know exactly how to go about this.
Over the next several years, I hungered and thirsted to hear His voice. His word tells us that those who hunger and thirst shall be filled. And I was. I searched His word, sat in silence to listen and stepped out to do things outside my comfort zone when He called me to.
Fast forward to 2015, our family was moving into a new season. One I was filled with hope over. We had three kids in high school, one married, and I was wrapping up years of homeschooling my kids by diving back into teaching at a private school.
Then, one month before the end of my first school year, my daughter’s marriage came to an unexpected end. She was only 20 and had a brand-new baby. There is nothing peaceful about the end of a marriage, but this was particularly traumatic and had a ripple effect throughout our extended family. My husband and I helped her begin to pick up the pieces, and I walked through some of my darkest days as a parent. I was fighting anger, betrayal, and disappointment. This was not the fairy tale ending I had written for her life and I wondered if I really knew God’s voice anymore.
The next year, I was promoted from assistant teacher to having my own kindergarten classroom and God was beginning to work his redeeming plan for my daughter and our family. I was excited and more than ready for a “normal” year. My husband was even walking away from fifteen years at a really hard job into his dream job. Finally! Maybe we can hear God’s voice.
But three months later, on New Year’s Eve, everything changed. After several days of Alan thinking he had a stomach bug, it became clear that something wasn’t quite right. Maybe he’s dehydrated, I thought. We’ll take him in, get him an IV and all will be well.
But it wasn’t. The next few weeks were a blur of MRI’s, surgery and confirmation that Alan had stage 4 glioblastoma. A massive tumor resting on his frontal lobe was mostly removed in the surgery. When the surgeon delivered the news, there was no stopping the tears that overcame me.
Then this gentle giant of a man, a brilliant brain surgeon, stepped near and dropped a kiss on my head. At that moment I felt seen and loved though fear and grief were standing at my shoulder.
It was one day at a time. We were grasping the hand of the Father and stepping into the unknown with hope. It was bad news and more bad news. But there was also Jesus, showing up in the hospital hallways, holy conversations, heaven-sent sunsets and the strength to persevere. After a year of battling this dreaded thing, they sent my beloved home to hospice.
As I was trying to get a grip on the doctors’ words, we pushed our way through the glass doors exiting the building and onto the busy Chicago streets. Just one block over from Michigan Avenue and days after ringing in another new year, the Christmas lights still twinkled. Had it only been a year?
The dark of night had stolen in while our lives were being turned upside down. As we pushed his wheelchair outside the hospital and down the sidewalk, God surprised me with the biggest, softest flakes of snow you ever saw pouring from the Heavens.
I began to weep.
My God saw me.
As a little girl, snowflakes gave me great delight. They meant I was with my grandparents up north. As an adult, they reminded me of long walks taken through the woods with my love. All the dark earth blanketed under a pristine layer of white filling the air with the holy hush of a sanctuary. It was communion.
I was enveloped in the snow. It became my sanctuary as I began walking to our last supper in the city. This was one of those moments in life where so many thoughts collided, it was hard to take them all in. I realized the Lord was covering everything in these beautiful, white flakes. He was also covering the brokenness of this moment with His beauty. I felt my face smile all the way to my soul while my eyes flooded with tears. I marveled that God saw fit to send us to Chicago, the city of my birth and a haven of safety for me as a little girl to receive the hardest news of my life. Then he went one step further and surrounded me with the one thing beyond any other that had always brought joy to my heart. In the midst of our hearts breaking, the Lord was reframing everything we could see.
Three months after Alan moved to heaven, God called us to pick up everything and leave our extended family and move to a land he was calling us. In the confusion of grief and stress, this was the ONE thing my children and I could all clearly hear. It made no earthly sense, financially, relationally or any other way. But God. He had a plan. Good plans. Plans to prosper and not to harm us, to give us a hope and a future.
So, we did. We followed the voice of God.
May I tell you something, friend? Following the voice of God changed everything for us. It took God plucking my children and I up, planting us in a new season and a new place, for Him to accomplish the things He had for us.
It hasn’t been easy. It’s actually been very hard. But it’s also been good and rich and wonderful. You see, we serve a God that can lead us through both the hard and wonderful, straight to the good works He has planned for us to do.
He is with us through it all because He is the keeper of our hearts. He uses the lamp of His word to shine on just the next step, always leading us in triumphant procession.
If you are hungry to hear the voice of God, start simple. Start like Samuel did, “Speak Lord, your servant listens.”
“I have set the Lord continually before me. Because He is at my right hand I will not be shaken. Therefore, my heart is glad, and my tongue rejoices. You make known to me the path of life,” (Psalm 16 : 8-9, 11).
Photo credit: Unsplash, Etienne Delorieux.
The Hear Him Louder Essay Series is a guest writer series where God's daughters share their stories of hearing God’s whispers in their every day. It’s meant to serve as an encouragement for the times when God feels far and seems quiet. When we read each other’s stories of how He meets us, it reminds and reassures us that He is near. May this series be an invitation for us to listen for His voice together.
Don't miss any posts in this series! Subscribe to receive notifications for each new essay, posted every other Thursday. When you subscribe, you'll receive a link to a FREE five-day devotional (45 beautiful pages!) called, “Closer: Five Days to Hearing God Louder.” Each day features teaching on one posture and a guided journaling section to help us practice taking steps toward hearing God louder in our every day.
Learn more about each of these five postures:
1 | Seek: If I Seek God, Will I Really Find Him?
2 | Know: Will God Speak, Even to Me?
3 | Expect: Can I Expect to Hear God?
4 | Listen: How Do I Listen for God?
5 | Connect: Is God Really Right Here?
New to this series? Check out the rest of the series!
Interested in contributing to the Hear Him Louder Essay Series? The call for submissions opens twice a year. To submit an essay outside of those windows, contact me.
Tara is a recent widow and mother of four. She began her writing journey after her husband went to Heaven in 2016 following a brief battle with brain cancer.
What began as a way to testify of God’s goodness during her season of suffering quickly turned into a passion to equip both children and adults with a hope in Jesus to carry them through hard times.
You can find Tara’s words of hope on her, “Seek and Savor” podcast, at
www.taradickson.com and on Instagram, @tara_dickson.
She is also a devotional writer for The Joyful Life Magazine and a host for the Widow Mama Collective on Facebook. She makes her home in Franklin, TN, where the hills are green and the barns are plenty.