The woman telling the story noticed. She came over and asked if she could pray for me. I remember crying because I felt so bad. She spoke some simple words from the Bible and asked me to repeat them after her. When I did, something changed.

Immediately those feelings of shame and guilt evaporated. I felt as if I had been swallowed by a warm ocean of love and pleasure. In that moment of euphoria, I heard God speak.

The voice wasn’t audible, but to me, it was real. It happened forty years ago, and though I can’t remember the exact words he said, God told me that he loved me. But more than that, he said, “I have an adventure planned for you.”

Any eight-year-old boy would be thrilled with an adventure, but one from God? I was positively pumped. I knew I’d heard from the Creator of the universe, that he knew my name, and that he had an adventure planned for me. This was so unlike anything I heard at the altar at church that I couldn’t wait to tell my dad. I ran the entire four blocks back to my house. As I ran, I thought, My feet aren’t touching the ground.

Is hearing from God reserved only for tie-wearing, head-bowing church boys? Or is it possible that eight-year-old Mark, with glue-stained fingertips and Rice Krispies on his shirt, really heard from God?

Mark believes he did, but frankly there’s no proof.

If evidence were required, the woman leading the event could testify to the change in Mark’s countenance. But she wouldn’t be able to swear on a Bible and say she heard God speak to him. She, like Mark, might believe it happened, but she’d never be able to prove it.

That’s the problem, isn’t it?

If you’ve never experienced God communicating with you, there’s nothing anyone can say or do to make you believe it’s possible.

But if you’ve experienced God in this way, there is a deep conviction that it happened—regardless of how weird the circumstances. It’s like knowing you’re innocent when all of the evidence seems to point to your guilt. There is nothing anyone can say or do to make you deny it. You’d give your life for what you know to be true.

Perhaps that’s why there’s still so much controversy over a seventeen-year-old girl who sacrificed her life for what she knew to be true.

101.3 Little Girl Hearing Voices

Jeanne was born in a small village in northern France at a time when girls didn’t learn to read or write. But Jeanne had a devout mother who taught her sacred lessons, and as a result, Jeanne was known for her gentleness, charity, and holiness.

One day, while tending her father’s sheep, she heard what she described as “a worthy voice”1 and saw “a great light that came in the name of the voice.”2 Jeanne credited this voice to the archangel Michael and to two early Christian saints, Catherine and Margaret. Jeanne was not yet a teenager when she received her first vision; she cried when the voices left because they were so beautiful.

Her visions continued. In time, they became quite specific and directive. They wanted her to rescue France. At the age of seventeen, Jeanne d’Arc, known to us as Joan of Arc, heeded the call of those voices.

She cut her hair short and persuaded her uncle to give her a horse, a dagger, a tunic, trousers, boots, and a boy’s black cap. She mustered a six-man escort and made them swear an oath to take her safely to Chinon.

Though yet uncrowned, Charles VII lived in the castle at Chinon and sat on the royal throne while the Hundred Years’ War divided France. Charles had been declared illegitimate by none other than his own mother. Charles was weak, without money, and incapable of reaching Reims for his own coronation. France had no true king.

The country was a mess. Charles’s own wimpish persona left him impotent to resist England’s army. But learning of the young girl who had visions, Charles felt a glimmer of hope and decided to test her.