My first night in Chicago, I walked into the local coffee shop and met Ivan. An hour and a half later, I still hadn’t bought a drink, but I had made a new friend!
From the start, it felt clear that Ivan had incredible self-awareness, thought deeply about life, and desired a space to process the things of his heart and mind. We started hanging out regularly and, over the months, I listened deeply and gave him any tools I knew of to better navigate relationships and his internal landscape.
When the summer came, Ivan expressed an interest in learning more about God and growing spiritually. He essentially had no religious background, so it was all new territory. We started reading the Bible together and one day, Ivan wanted to listen for God’s voice. I gave him my basic intro of listening prayer:
“God wants to talk to us because he loves us! So, let’s take some time to practice listening for his voice. What we’re going to do is ask God an open-ended question and then I want you to pay attention to everything that happens in you. You might feel something in your body, you might see a visual image, you might hear a word, you might feel an emotion… just pay attention to everything that comes up! If it’s got joy or life or peace on it, you can trust it’s from God. If it creates fear or feels critical or angry, you can trust it’s not God. Sound good?”
Ivan agreed and then asked, “God, how do you feel about me?”
He paused and sat quietly for a few minutes before looking at me. I asked him what happened and he said, “God said that he’s sad because I’m carrying too much. I wasn’t meant to carry everything by myself and it makes him sad because it’s keeping me from joy.”
I asked my friend how he felt, and he responded, “I feel broken. I never realized that I was getting in my own way. I don’t want to live with these loads anymore.”
“Alright, why don’t you tell God that.”
I sat and waited once more. This time when he looked at me, hope and life filled Ivan's face. "He said that it’s going to be hard to change, but that I can do it. He’s already given me everything I need to stop carrying all these burdens. He’s given me community, and I can always trust him.”
That following weekend, for the first time, my friend felt peace, even in the midst of circumstances going wrong that normally would stress him out. He’s still learning what it means to rely on community and how to trust God with things instead of actively worrying about them, but Ivan has grown so much and keeps choosing peace, hope, and life.
This moment with Ivan did not happen out of the blue—it came out of my own yearning to know God’s voice and my journey to discover how Jesus speaks to me.
I didn’t always know how to hear God for myself, let alone trust that he would speak to someone else. I had this sense of God-with-me from an early age and knew at certain moments that God was leading me. However, I never felt like I could say, “Oh, God told me XYZ,” especially not as frequently or as casually as I heard some people say it. I started asking those people a lot of questions. “What do you mean God told you? How did you know?” I started paying more attention to the moments where I had felt God’s leading. How did I know it had been from God? What did that feel like? I read a book on how to hear from God (Can You Hear Me? by Brad Jersak).
As I built out a framework, I started to name and understand the ways God had been speaking to me all along! What joy filled my heart to hear the Voice of Love speaking over me!
I couldn’t keep something this good to myself. I wanted everyone to know the ways God had been speaking to them and to recognize God’s voice! It became a main topic of interest for me as I listened to people’s stories, noting the thread of God’s presence in their lives because I continually paid attention to that thread in mine. The more I invited people into hearing God in new ways and noting the ways Jesus had already spoken, the more my belief that God speaks to all took on deeper layers of conviction and meaning.
So on the day when I asked my friend Ivan if he wanted to hear from God, I could do so with confidence. I knew from my own experience that God would show up, one way or another.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alison Moscoso has been with Novo since 2014. She lives in Chicago and serves with the ChurchNEXT team ReWire, which equips Christ-followers to deepen their spiritual journey, develop a sense of calling, and live as missionaries in their communities.