Listening to God’s Voice – Talking Less, Listening More
The sea of life has been quite turbulent for me lately. So this week I have taken a few days off for some R&R. Perhaps since this is not my culture my mind exaggerates how hard it really is, but I doubt it. It’s harsh and for a while now I have needed a rest.
During this mini vacation on Lake Victoria I have tried hard to talk less at and listen more to God. After all He already knows my long desperate list of needs before it ever reaches my lips. He has always known them; He’s God. The problem is not that God wants to know my will so therefore I need to tell it to Him, rather the problem is that I halfheartedly want to know God’s will but all too often I do not allow him to tell it to me. Why? It is a scary proposition when your focus on the Lord is blurred by the world and when you think you know more about your needs than He does.
I really have been trying to listen to Him, but my fears and frustrations have hijacked me. Seeing a bloated dead man get pulled out of the lake, having Melinda tell me she just killed a 3-foot-long venomous boom slang snake in our living room under the oversized cushions on which the girls play, always wondering if the cash is coming next month for our basic needs, has distracted me.
All this and more has overwhelmed me. The bellows have stoked life into that smoldering lie deep within my heart; the one that God is neither behind nor in front of me. I have been overwhelmed with a dreaded feeling that perhaps God is not holding my Family and me in His arms. Scriptures that were meant for someone with far greater faith than I have, such as “my grace is sufficient,” pops into my head. I remember some personally butchered version of 2 Kings telling me that I am surrounded by “horses and chariots of fire,” but when I look I see piles of burning trash with fellow human beings no longer even avoiding the rats as they pick through what remains of my overindulgence. People that desire a small bite of fish and bread as might be distributed by a disciple instead receive dysentery as distributed by bacteria.
Many of the men on my jobsites have broken bread with rats and vultures, but never a western missionary. These same men know what it means to lose it “all.” Yet somehow they still raise their hands and praise God for His provision. What amazing faith.
Listening to God’s Voice – A Matter of Faith
In recent months I have been asking God a lot of questions, never pausing long enough for an answer. My big question has been “God why are you not feeding your children?”
So during my recent time away I aggressively pursued a difficult pause for my spirit. Then this morning as I prayed I tried my hardest to think of nothing and to ask for nothing. But I could not do it! On my own accord I am far too selfish to listen to God without my personal agenda…God I want…God I want…God I want. Finally I had to be honest with Him and admit I do not know how to just be quiet and listen. I do not know how to listen to Him when my personal will groans atop this mountain of trash many call “Man is Mostly Good.” So then rather ironically I asked something more of God.
I admitted the truth of the matter, and that is I cannot listen to Him unless he gives me the faith to do so. I cannot stand in this dump and truly love God unless he gives me the faith to do so. I cannot see Jesus in this sewer unless He gives me the faith to do so. So I asked that God quiet my soul long enough that I might hear from Him, and then I asked God for the faith to believe what He tells me.
Suddenly my fears stopped screaming at me. My spirit became quiet. Around me there were a dozen or so species of birds each singing a timeless melody created by Christ Himself to proclaim His own greatness. The waves from the lake honored Gods laws as they played upon the beach like an eternal piano. The clouds above gathered like a choir so that Gods creation on the highlands would receive refreshment. The invisible breeze sang a love song to the King as it grabbed seeds from the countless species of trees and flung them along the ground, distributing His wealth.
But it was the pounding and scraping rhythmic tune that caught my attention most; another among the God Songs that I all too often ignore. Just beyond my line of site a man was managing his garden so that he might feed his people. I then imagined the man beyond the farmer, seated in a wooden boat that wore a coat of mildew, calling back to the farmer as though in poetic refrain “Pray for good weather. God willing I shall return safely tonight with our dinner”.
I then realized I have been receiving blessings beyond belief all along. God breaks my heart so that I may have a small glimpse into His. God allows the trash piles to break my spirit so that I must rely on His. God allows sin to tempt me so that when I fail I can appreciate all the more his faultless time on earth. God gives and takes away so that I may not wander from his hand, the hand that sustains me.
Listening to God’s Voice – A Change in Perspective
Every day I am blessed because I get to see Jesus as he chooses to reveal himself to me between now and when he returns. He may not have opened my eyes to see the “horses and chariots of fire” but he has given me the faith to believe they are there chomping at their fiery bits. I do not see that, but God has opened my eyes so that in the homeless child, the prostitute, the drug addict, and the ill-equipped husband and father I can see Jesus as He reveals Himself to me.
The question I have been asking of God “Why are you not feeding your children?” is backwards. Today God slugged me in the gut with this question; “Affluent church you say you are my bride…so why are you not feeding my children?”
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’