Years ago, I had a friend whom I’ll call Michael who was quite successful in the professional theatre world. Michael designed sets for Hollywood films and Broadway productions, and was also an accomplished painter. When he became seriously ill, he asked me to help him “hear God’s voice before he died.” He actually said, “If God is real, I need to hear His voice.” So we met for breakfast every couple of weeks and talked and prayed together. But my friend never heard God speak to him.

I was getting ready for a family vacation and knowing Michael’s health was rapidly declining, I earnestly hoped that he would hear God’s voice before I had to leave. The day before I left, Michael and I sat outdoors in a peaceful, secluded spot, and since I was feeling God’s presence there strongly, I prayed for Michael out loud with great energy.

After a while, I asked Michael if he had heard God’s voice while I prayed. He quickly responded that he had not, and with some irritation said, “I kept seeing a picture that was so vivid that I could barely listen to what you were saying.” Surprised, I asked him to describe the picture he was seeing. My request annoyed him. But then he said, “I saw a gate, and it was closed.”

At that moment, I realized that God might be doing something, so I decided to stop praying out loud and get out of the way of whatever was happening. I simply said, “Dear Father, please tell Michael why you’re showing him that gate,” and then I was quiet.

Several minutes later, Michael began to quietly cry. I could see that his tears were not from anger or frustration. I put my arm around his shoulder and after waiting another couple of minutes, I asked him what was happening. Very softly, my friend said, “The gate opened.” I then had the honor of gently telling him that Jesus described himself as a gate. Michael had met Jesus. This amazing experience was life-changing for Michael. Because he had truly met Jesus, he became an evangelist in the last three weeks of his life. At his wake several weeks later, I discovered that he had, with great excitement, told all of his friends and family about seeing the gate open and what that meant.

This experience was life-changing for me, too, because I saw God “speak” to my friend through the eyes of his imagination. I had wrongly encouraged my friend to listen for God with his ears, when God really wanted to speak through his eyes. And why wouldn’t God talk to Michael through his eyes? God had designed him to have the super-sensitive eyes of a painter and a designer.

Over many years since then, I have seen God communicate powerfully to many people through music, dance, theatre, poetry, film, and painting. Almost always, these experiences of God’s presence involved strong emotional reaction and the experiences would “live on” in their memories—their imaginations—in amazing detail.

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PC: Timur Kozmenko on Unsplash; Laila Gebhard on Unsplash; Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

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