Monday, November 2, 2009

Recently, I was asked to answer a on-line study question for the Bible study group, Ladies Prayer Share, and since I already know I'm not going to be able to do this in a few lines, I thought it would also make a good blog entry. The question is a wonderful one, thought provoking and one that I know many people ask. I have often wondered about it. It is this: Does God speak to you? If He does, can you share with us how He speaks to you? So many people yearn to hear God, few of us know HOW to listen to Him.

Firstly, I absolutely believe that God talks to me. I am always cautious, though, when I am making a claim that God has told me a certain thing. I believe one of the ways that believers take the Lord's name in vain is when we claim that God told us things that may not have come from Him. It is wrong to use God's name to back up thoughts and decisions that may be our own. Using the authority of God to strengthen our positions or validate our own ideas is a dangerous thing, and I do not think God takes this lightly. It is confusing to others, and it seriously cheapens our witness.

But yes, I do believe that God speaks to me. Have I ever heard an audible voice? No. Have I heard the voice of God in my head. Yes. Sometimes hearing God is a simple knowing or feeling that is coming to me from Him. Many times when I am discouraged or hurting, I have felt an outpouring of His love for me. I don't hear the words I love you, or I am here, but His love and Presence are so tangible that words are not neccesary.

There have been times when I have heard His voice in my head, though. One time, years ago I was deep in the midst of emotional and spiritual healing and was struggling to function within the cesspool of hurt and sorrow that I was slowly moving out of. I was getting ready to go to a Ladies Meeting that I had organized (not a strength in the best of times). I was pressed for time, overwhelmed, fearful and unsure of myself, and I found myself wandering around my bedroom crying and trying to find the clothes I needed. As I was rummaging through a laundry basket, I fell apart and let myself go, literally tumbling into the basket, sobbing. As I lay halfway in the basket, I heard a very emphatic voice inside my head, asking me, "What are you doing?!" It was almost sharp, and caught me so off-guard that I froze, caught my breath and stopped crying. The voice continued, "When you are weak, I am strong. I will be your strength. Get up." And I did.

There was no doubt in my mind at the time, nor is there now, that it was God speaking to me. It matched all of the criteria that I tend to use to judge if something is from God or not. Firstly, it was truth. Always, the first criteria to discern if something is from God is it's verity. In fact, what God had said to me about being strong in my weakness was scripture, and I knew it to be true. God's voice always sounds like God. He was firm, but not harsh. He was being parental, sounding like a father pulling an out-of-control child back into control. He was doing it so that I would be able to serve Him later that night. He was offering Himself as my help in a time of trouble. There was no condemnation, no shame, no "stop being such a baby", but only compassion and strength and patience. The words made me feel calmer immediately. I was empowered, with His power.

I think knowing when God is speaking involves the intentional seeking of a relationship with Him. Sometimes His voice comes in the form of a thought, or a dream, or words spoken from someone else's mouth, or Scripture read that strikes us as just what we needed to hear. But it always sounds like Him. If someone showed up at my daughter's school and told her that I had sent them with a message, and then presented a message to her that instructed her to do something that she knew I wouldn't want her to do, or was written in harsh, unkind, ugly words, I'm fairly sure that Gracie would be able to say, "That doesn't sound like my mom..."

I think the purpose of the words is significant, too. What is the intent? When Gracie was small, she went on daytrip with her grandparents. As I watched them pull out of the driveway with her in the backseat, I heard a voice in my head say, "You will never see Grace again." I was struck with fear and anxiety. Immediately, in prayer, I gave control of her safety over to God. Then I prayed that God would show me if the words were from Him or from the evil one, who is the father of lies. I immediately began to think about the intended result of the words. Perfect love drives out fear. God is perfect love and He relieves fear, not inducing it, unless it is respectful fear of facing Him after rebelling against Him. If it was a warning from God in order to protect Grace, it would have been given before she left, when I could have done something to protect her. But it came as she moved out of my range of protection. There was nothing I could do. It felt taunting, mean-spirited. It in no way felt like God. So I dismissed it as a lie from Satan, told him that she was in God's hands, and if he wanted to mess with her, he'd have to deal with God, and intentionally refused to think about it anymore. Of course she came home safely.

Also, because I view Scripture as the literal word of God, I hear God speak to me through scripture. Many verses apply to us at all times and can be considered His absolute word to us. One of my favorites is Psalm 18:19b "He rescued me because He delighted in me". Having unmistakenably been rescued by God, this verse tells me the glorious and lovely reason why...He delights in me. How sweet is that?! This entire Psalm is one that I have often read and prayed through, and as I speak the words of David to God, they become my own. The God that David trusted is still the same God I run to for help, and so I can be confident that God delights in me as well.

This is such an awesome topic, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to spend some time this morning to think about the wonder of a God who actually communicates such wonderful things to us! Learning to listen can be as simple as sitting quietly in His Presence, believing by faith that He is there, and enjoying Him, or reading the Bible and hearing every word as from the mouth of God. It's simple, but not easy in a world of voices vying for our attention.

Yeah... I knew I couldn't do it in just a few lines...heh heh...

In Christ, Kelly
My Zimbio