Once a Whisper
February 17, 2020
For the past two decades, I’ve had the joy and privilege of pastoring National Community Church in Washington, DC, and I wouldn’t want to be anyplace else doing anything else with anyone else. I’m living the dream, but that dream was once a whisper.
The genesis of the dream goes all the way back to a cow pasture in Alexandria, Minnesota, where I heard the still small voice of God. I had just finished my freshman year at the University of Chicago. Law school was Plan A, but that was before I asked God a dangerous question: What do You want me to do with my life? Of course, it’s far more dangerous not to ask Him that question!
In retrospect, I’ve dubbed that summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college my “summer of seeking.” For the first time in my life, I got serious about getting up early in the morning to pray. And it wasn’t just a religious ritual. I was desperate to hear His voice, and maybe that’s why I finally did.
At the end of the summer, our family was vacationing at Lake Ida in Alexandria, Minnesota. I decided to do a long prayer walk down some dirt roads. For some reason walking helps my talking. I’m able to pray with more focus and listen with less distraction. At one point I went off road through a cow pasture. As I meandered my way around cow patties, I heard what I would describe as the inaudible yet unmistakable voice of God. In that moment at that place, I knew that God was calling me into full-time ministry. It wasn’t words as much as it was a feeling, a sense of calling. And that one whisper prompted me to give up a full-ride scholarship at the University of Chicago and transfer to Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri. That move made no academic sense whatsoever and was second-guessed by more than a few people in my life, but that’s often the way His whisper works.
Those who dance are thought mad by those who hear not the music.
That old adage is certainly true of those who walk to the beat of God’s drum.
When you take your cues from the Holy Spirit, you’ll do some things that will make people think you’re crazy. So be it. Obey the whisper and see what God does.
More than two decades of ministry have come and gone since that prayer walk through a cow pasture. National Community has grown into one church with eight campuses over the past twenty years, but each campus was once a whisper. I’ve written fifteen books over the past ten years, but each book was once a whisper. Every sermon I preach and every book I write are echoes of that one whisper in the middle of a cow pasture in the middle of nowhere.
Nothing has the potential to change your life like the whisper of God. Nothing will determine your destiny more than your ability to hear His still small voice.
That’s how you discern the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC. NCC also owns and operates Ebenezers Coffeehouse, The Miracle Theatre, and the DC Dream Center. Mark holds a doctor of ministry degree from Regent University and is the New York Times bestselling author of 17 books, including The Circle Maker, Chase the Lion, and Whisper. Mark and his wife, Lora, have three children and live on Capitol Hill.
Mark’s book, Whisper, helps readers learn how to listen to God. Mark wants to introduce you to the seven love languages of God; each of them unique and entirely divine. Some of them you might suspect but others will surprise you.
By learning to tune in to and decipher each language, you’ll be able to hear His guidance in simple as well as life-altering choices. God is actively speaking through: Scripture, Desires, Doors, Dreams, People, Promptings, and Pain. Batterson gives you the tools you need to unlock each of these languages.