When Stormie Omartian’s husband suggested moving to Tennessee 20 years ago, she made it clear she did not want to go. Los Angeles–not Nashville–was home.
“I really liked living in Los Angeles,” Omartian said. “As difficult as it was, I knew how to live there.”
She explained this to her husband … and to God.
“I told Him all the reasons I didn’t want to go,” said Omartian.
But in asking the Lord to reveal His will–not hers–she came to the conclusion that she should go. Not next month. Not next year. Immediately.
“So we left before we even sold our house,” said Omartian. “We knew we were supposed to go then.”
Just a few months later, on January 17, 1994, the Omartian family figured out why the Holy Spirit led them to leave their home so quickly. On that day, a magnitude 6.7 earthquake shook Southern California. It killed 60 people, injured more than 7,000, and destroyed the Omartians’ Northridge home.
The quake was felt as far away as Las Vegas, Nevada and Richfield, Utah. Northridge was at the epicenter, sustaining some of the most severe damage.
At the time, Omartian’s family still hadn’t sold the house, so nobody was inside. Omartian believes it’s likely anyone in there during the quake would have been killed.
“I was glad that we listened and heard the leading of the Lord,” she said.
Stormie Omartian wasn’t always able to discern the will of the Lord so clearly. She spent the first 28 years of her life apart from God. Raised in an abusive home on a cattle ranch in Wyoming, Omartian lived a life full of fear.
“I was raised by a mentally ill mother, and she was very abusive physically and verbally,” said Omartian. “But I think what affected me the most was being locked in a closet much of my early childhood.”
Depression and hopelessness were all Omartian knew. Those feelings stayed with her, even as she tried to move on, working as a young performer in Los Angeles.
“It was a better life, but I still had all the fear, anxiety and depression,” she said. “Everything was a struggle. Into my 20s I became more depressed and more anxious and more fearful.”
She tried just about everything to find happiness–drugs, binge drinking, unhealthy relationships. She dabbled in various Eastern religions and even the occult. Nothing satisfied. Her world just grew darker. So dark, she felt suicide was the only way out.
“I just couldn’t face it anymore,” said Omartian. “It was like an avalanche of emotion that was beginning to control me.”
Before she made a move to end her life, the Lord made a move to save it. One of Omartian’s friends saw her struggling and convinced her to have lunch with a California pastor.
“He told me about the Lord and that God had a plan and a purpose for my life,” said Omartian. “I had never heard of anything like that. And right away, things began to change. I began to feel hope for the first time ever.”
She joined a church, got her hands on a Bible and never looked back. There was something different about Jesus that she couldn’t find anywhere else.
“All the other things really held no promise,” said Omartian. “Occult practices and Eastern religions are all about what you can do for a better life. With Jesus, He’s already done it all. When I received Jesus I felt different. I felt hope. And I never felt that with the other things I was involved in.”
Since Omartian made the decision to follow Christ, God has used her in a powerful way. Her Power of a Praying… books have helped countless readers find a closer relationship with God and, as a result, stronger relationships with their spouses, friends, and children.
Omartian’s latest book, Lead Me, Holy Spirit, addresses one aspect of prayer life that’s easily overlooked: listening. She hopes to teach readers to acknowledge the Holy Spirit in order to hear God’s will for their lives.
“In Romans 8:9, it says if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, we’re not His,” said Omartian. “When you receive Jesus, He gives you the Holy Spirit. He’ll lead us away from sin. He’ll enable us to live the way God wants us to live.”
Omartian says learning to hear the Holy Spirit is all about studying the Bible.
“You cannot hear from God reliably if you don’t have a solid foundation in His word,” she said.
That’s the message she hopes to convey clearly and simply in her new book. As she prepared to visit The Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., for a book signing on May 9, Omartian says it’s the same kind of clarity and simplicity of message that drew her to Billy Graham years ago at one of his Los Angeles Crusades.
“I was so impressed by his message,” said Omartian. “It was never long, never boring. It was always clear and simple. Sometimes the message gets way complicated, and for me, I don’t need complication. My life is already complicated.”
Omartian volunteered as a counselor at Billy Graham’s Nashville Crusade in 2000, where her two young nephews decided to receive Jesus.
Whether the message comes through a Crusade, a book, or a well-timed lunch meeting with a pastor, Omartian ultimately wants the lost and hurting to know Jesus Christ. He’s the one she credits with her success in writing, parenting and 40 years of marriage.
“I am so dependent on God that I don’t think for a moment that I can do anything without Him,” said Omartian. “I depend on Him for everything.”