It saddens me that many people believe God speaks in ways additional to the Bible, as if Scripture requires supplemental material. The attitude that He speaks in “secondary” ways may give the appearance of affirming the authority of Scripture by emphasizing that it’s the primary way God speaks. I admit, with great embarrassment, that I bought into that nonsense for many years, all the while presenting myself as a staunch advocate of Sola Scriptura. Like my friends, I wanted the Lord to speak to me personally…beyond the generalities of His written Word.
As an example of my foolishness, let me take you back to a few months before John proposed to me. We’d been in a relationship for three years, and still he hadn’t really gotten beyond talking about marriage as only a possibility. Since we lived on opposite sides of the country at that point, I’d put my life on hold while I waited to see whether or not God would bring us into marriage.
One morning, overwhelmed with frustration, I asked the Lord to let me see three bluebirds (uncommon birds in that part of the country) before sundown. I don’t know if God wanted to discipline me for demanding a sign instead of respecting John as the leader in the relationship, but He allowed me to see two bluebirds outside my window.
I went to bed disheartened. Had the Lord told me, by not sending a third bluebird, that John and I would never marry?
In truth, God’s Word had told me to trust Him rather than to look for self-prescribed omens. He knew that John would propose during my third visit to Boston (which we’d already planned), but I needed to obey the clear teaching of Scripture by trusting that He would bring us together in ways that honored John’s leadership.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
7 Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
8 It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones. ~~Proverbs 3:5-8 (ESV)
God’s Word did speak clearly to my situation, but on His terms rather than mine. The Bible has many passages about trusting the Lord and waiting for Him patiently, and all those passages would have applied. In addition, His Word warns against seeking signs and testing Him. If anything, my request for a sign demonstrated my disobedience.
In His mercy, the Lord did allow me to marry John, and He has used this marriage to draw me into a conviction that His Word is sufficient. Although I well understand the temptation to want more than “just the Bible,” I know that I can’t exhaust its wisdom.