I’ve been asked many times, “How did you know when to start your business? What was that process of hearing from God like?” It was not a one-and-done moment. There were multiple ways God got my attention and helped me through the process — and He can and wants to do the same for you.
Seeking His Direction
It first started with seeking His direction and feeling a sense of passion for coaching that the Holy Spirit placed in me. Quarterly, I would take a weekend to retreat and focus on praying, journaling, reading, and discerning my next steps. I used Brene Brown’s the Gifts of Imperfection to work through personal issues and my Life Application NIV Bible as my guide. Spending time with God in prayer and listening helped me silence the distractions and know His voice.
Listening to Wise Counsel
Proverbs 1:5 says, “Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.” Wise counsel played a major role as there was much I needed to learn in the journey of starting and running a business. Many people played pivotal roles, including spiritual mentors, financial mentors, business mentors, encouragers, prayer warriors, etc.
As a single woman with a university job, the “logical” thing to do was to stay in the comfortable security of a government job. I wanted to be wise, faithful, and bold in my decisions, and the advice I received was invaluable. It was clear that while it was a step of faith and a risk, I had a solid foundation and was being prudent in my decision process. God used these people to guide and encourage me. BONSAI would not be here without them.
Watching God Work Behind the Scenes
What God ordains, He provides. “The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.” (Psalm 37: 23-24) While I surely have made some blunders along the way, God has been so faithful.
Before I decided to leave the university, I was in a corporate meeting to finalize work that would be the initial anchor for BONSAI’s business. I had put countless hours into designing the program, building relationships, etc. Gaining agreement was complicated for several reasons, including the size of two organizations involved. In addition, I was proposing an unproven solution and didn’t know the key decision makers. A vice president, whom I didn’t yet know, walked in the room and began talking about his weekend golf game. He had played golf with the other organization’s top leader, a man I had met only once years before. They had discussed my program and agreed to support it. I was overjoyed. This was a critical step in knowing I was closer to starting BONSAI. It was clear God had worked behind the scenes in ways I could not have imagined or orchestrated. I knew His hand was in it. It reminded me of Deuteronomy 31 that “the Lord himself goes before you.”
Asking for Clarity
Even though things were falling into place, I wasn’t sure when I should resign from my full time job. The program I just landed wasn’t going to start producing any cash flow for at least six months. I began asking God for clarity for my end date, since He says “Ask and it will be given to you” in Matthew 7:7. What happened next was surreal, but not unlike God.
A little context first. A year prior, God prompted me to write a substantial check to offset medical expenses so a friend could get treatment at Mayo. By that point in my life, I had finally learned to do what God tells me to do, no matter how hard (which it was as a newly divorced woman having to be careful with her budget). I didn’t think about it again until…
In July 2013, a month after the corporate meeting, I was sitting in my office and sensed God saying to me “Hey, remember the check you wrote? It wasn’t about your friend. It was about your choosing to be obedient.” Side note: I have learned to recognize God’s voice because it usually happens when something that never occurred to me comes out of left field.
I quickly emailed my friend, sharing what I thought I heard from God. A half hour later, my friend texted me at the end of his 10-mile run sharing what God spoke to Him while he was running 30 minutes prior – that my check wasn’t about his health, but about my obedience, and that it would be rewarded as I helped people through BONSAI. I asked, “Did you see my email?” He replied, “What email, I’ve been running on the Katy Trail?” We were both amazed and speechless. God gave us each the same message at the same time. I resigned from the university the next day.
As I recollect that moment of awe, the same feeling of gratitude arises from within me. God answered as He promises. I knew I could trust His promise to help me with the business He planted in me. An ever greater blessing happened the next week — Patrick and I had our first date.
All of this is proof of how God can restore lives, but it requires listening and following where He leads. Where are you hearing the voice of God speak to you about what’s next?