Lessons on Listening from Mike Lindell

In this way the Love of God was revealed to us: God sent His only son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God but that He loved us.  1 John 4: 9-10

In The Silver Chair, book four of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narina, Eustice and Jill desperately call out to Aslan while fleeing from bullies at their boarding school.  After escaping into Narnia via a mysteriously unlocked door, they meet him, and Aslan informs them: “You would not have called me unless I had been calling to you.” 

It’s easy to misconstrue the dynamic of our relationship with God.  As He is far more interested in a relationship with us than we with Him, all our recollections originate from Him.  How does he call to us? 

In his raw and honest biography, What Are the Odds, Mike Lindell relates the numerous ways God spoke to him throughout his life.  In studying his life story, we may recognize God speaking to us in our own.

God is Still Speaking

We’ve accumulated great spiritual memoirs over the years: St. Augustine’s Confessions, St. Therese of Lisieux’s Story of a Soul, St. Teresa of Avila's The Book of Her Life.  However, it’s difficult for a modern reader to relate to an Archbishop in the 400s and cloistered nuns in the 16th and 19th centuries.  That is to say, Saints and Doctors have related a great deal about God, prayer, and how to listen to Him, but their foreign circumstances makes a relationship with God seem unaccessible, or even exclusive. 

Mike Lindell, however, an aw-shucks guy from Minnesota, demonstrates how God speaks to everyday people in the 21st century. 

Mike relates the entirety of his life in this memoir: from his parents divorcing at the age of 8, that moved him from a comfortable middle class home to a trailer park, to owning a bar in Victoria, Minnesota in the 90s, to meeting his wife and raising a family, and of course starting MyPillow, for which we all know him today. 

Mike’s a fun, full-of-life guy.  At the bar, he “sold belonging, not beer” by playing carefully selected sing-along music, throwing parties which he livened up with stacks of cocktail napkins thrown into the fan, and hosting yearly trips to Las Vegas with the regulars. 

Every year he took hunting trips with his buddies and eventually his sons, too.  And from a young age he showed strong business propensities: in his 20s starting both both a carpet-cleaning business and sandwich kiosk. 

From his teenage years, Mike demonstrated addictive behaviors: sports betting, cocaine and eventually crack.  He learns to count cards playing blackjack, which helps make ends meet at several points in his life. 

Although he managed to lead others on the road to recovery, he himself remained a prisoner to crack, and eventually his life spiraled. His wife left him, his children didn’t want to live with him, and he repeatedly fell prey to crooked men who tried to steal MyPillow. 

The Call of God

Throughout his colorful roller-coaster life, Mike hears God speaking to him through coincidences, dreams, locutions (interior voices) and other people.  His idea for the pillow company came from a vivid dream:

One night in the spring of 2004, I sat straight up in bed, holding onto the tail of a dream….words from my dream were running through my head. It was my own voice repeating the words, “Where’s my pillow? 1 

He spends the wee hours of the morning experimenting with business names and logo designs. 

Several years later, with MyPillow in full swing, while doing lines of cocaine one weekend, he received three separate phone calls from people who’d watched an interview with him on TV.  They all had the same message.  The coarsest related it thus: 

Well let me tell you something, pal. I don’t believe in God. But I keep having a dream that I’m supposed to call you and tell you what you’re doing is important to God. I hope these dreams stop now, you a**hole! 1 

It does take Mike a LONG time to finally turn his life over to God; his sister plays a big part in bringing about this conversion.  Once, after his eventual conversion, he’s brought to tears by a voice telling him: 

Go to Church tomorrow.  You are done with gambling….Don’t worry about counting cards to cover your company’s expenses.  You will meet Kendra.  Through her, you will become closer to me. 1

These are just a few of the plethora of serendipitous experiences and dreams that Mike experiences.

Spiritual Reality vs. the Rational World

In our modern world, things like dreams and vision are often scoffed at, even by Christians, as the stuff of superstition and fantasy.

Which is puzzling, when juxtaposed with Christians and Jews in Biblical times.  Consider just one central New Testament figure: St. Joseph.  Not only did he decide to take Mary as his wife due to a dream (Matthew 1: 20-25), he also up and fled Bethlehem for Egypt with his wife and baby in the middle of the night. (Matthew 2: 13-14). 

That is to say, St. Joseph made crucial life decisions due to messages received in dreams. 

These certainly aren’t the only passages of their kind: going back to St. Joseph’s namesake, Joseph (Jacob's son) interprets Pharaoh's dream, which alerts Egypt of an upcoming famine (Genesis 40).  The Bible is ridden with characters interpreting dreams, receiving visions and being visited by angels; much of the stuff of Mike's memoir. 

Get real,” someone today would easily tell either Joseph, knowing how much stake they planted in dreams.  How is it that today we write off as preposterous a phenomenon they placed so much trust? 

In Crossing the Threshold of Hope John Paul II cites the modern age of rationalism, beginning with Descartes, as the point at which Western culture began its rift from a relationship with an unseen God. 

The French Revolution…introduced the cult of the goddess Reason…the consequence was that man was supposed to live by his reason alone, as if God did not exist. 2

Yet, even if our homage to reason has skewed our perception of reality, God hasn’t changed.  Mike’s memoir demonstrates that God continues to speak to us as He did back in Biblical times: through dreams, visions and locutions. 

Dreams: A Window to Reality

In his book, Dreams: A Way to Listen to God, Morton Kelsey tells how he began a practice of writing down and studying his dreams. 

I soon noticed that there was a wisdom greater than mine that spoke to me in my dreams and came to my aid. 3 

I’ve often noticed a correlation between dreams and my daily life. Once, in a dream, I envisioned my sisters meeting with my employer. A few days later, they told me that such a meeting had transpired in a coffee shop.  Another time, a priest spoke to me in a dream, telling me that he wouldn’t hear my Confession.  The next day, this same priest celebrated Mass and afterwards announced that, although normally he heard Confessions after Mass, he wouldn’t be able to today.  And just recently, I dreamed that a childhood friend came to visit: I waved to him through the window.  The next day, my mom called his mother. 

None of these dreams communicate anything so significant as Mike Lindell or St. Joseph.  No commands to get up in the middle of the night and move to another country, or to start a business and build a platform.

But they certainly suggest a relationship between dreams and daily life. 

A New Language

We can learn a lot about God from What Are the Odds, where Mike relates how God called and called to him over and over again, and Mike finally answers back.

As God is enamored with all of us, He’s calling to each of us, in our everyday life.  Yet, if we don’t know how to listen or how He speaks, how can we respond? 

That is to say, the language of God is distinct and all of its own.  It must be learned.  As with any language, this can be a long process.  And God does not speak to everyone similarly.  But Mike certainly provides guidance: listening to dreams, coincidences, and messages from other people might help us identify God speaking in our lives.  

Then, after we've received a significant message, mulling and reflecting on it, as interpreting the message is as crucial as recognizing it in the first place! 

Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. Luke 2:19

What’s your take? What are the ways you hear God speaking to you in your daily life?

1 What Are the Odds, Mike Lindell, 2018.Pages 132, 214, 271. 2Crossing the Threshold of Hope, John Paul II, 1994. Pages 52-3. 3Dreams: A Way to Listen to God, Morton Kelsey, 1978. Page 9.


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