Part 4 on Obedience
Yesterday we looked at meditating on the Bible and spending time with God. This in itself is great but lets face it, what we really want is to hear God speak to us. I mean, what’s a relationship if only one person does all the talking? I read a joke the other day, please don’t be offended ladies.
Here it goes. “Two guys were in a boat fishing. One of the men says to his friend, “Joe, I think I am gonna divorce Martha.” “Why?” asks Joe. “Because she hasn’t spoken to me in 6 months.” Joe pauses a second and then says, “You might want to rethink that decision, a woman like that is hard to find.”
While funny, and maybe a little true sometimes (you know I am right ladies.) It does illustrate a great truth, a relationship where only one person does all the talking stinks. My wife and I have been married for going on 5 years now. Most of the time we have nothing new to tell each other. She has heard all my stupid jokes and she tells me the same childhood stories over and over. We have to find things to talk about. We both are well read, she like celebrity gossip and I like sports gossip. We share the same life. We talk about our kids, our house, our church and our hobbies. Sometimes we go days without anything substantial to talk about, not that we don’t want to talk, we just know everything about the other person. However, occasionally, something pops up that we didn’t know about the other person. When that happens we talk. Or maybe one of us will see a truth about God that we had never seen before and we will discuss it. But more often than not our conversation revolves around what medicines the kids are on, what the doctor said about the kids or which medicines the kids need to be on. (I often tell my wife that were she to die on me I would have to marry a pediatrician)
Our relationship with God is the same but at the same time, different. We get to know God the longer we are following Him. He shows us the basics and we no longer need to pray about certain things. We know it is His will to go to church, to read our Bible, to give to the poor etc… But while I can know my wife to the point where I don’t learn new things about her as often, God is so amazing and so big that there is never a time where I can’t learn if I am listening.
I must admit that I struggle with this as well. It is hard for me to settle down long enough to listen. But when I do, He shows up and I see something new.
Let’s get practical. How do you hear God? First, there is no magic formula, know set way or place. Here is how it works for me. I get up early. I wake up at 4:30am and get a cup of coffee. I sit in my lazy boy and read my devotion and then the Bible, right now I am in Psalms. Sometimes I get 3 or 4 chapters read, sometimes only a few verses. As I read I am trying to discipline myself to read it as a prayer to God and to find how the verses that I am reading apply to my life. If something hits me, (I describe it as God’s Holy Highlighter because the verse looks like it jumps off the page) I stop and pray about it. I mentally chew it up and savor it. I mull it over and try to get as much from it as I can. I pray about what it is saying and then I either read some more or quit. Next I move into prayer time. I do this on my knees, not because I am holier than you, it just helps me stay awake. I have fallen asleep before while praying.
Sometimes God speaks to me and sometimes He doesn’t, or at least I don’t hear Him. Sometimes He chooses to speak to me through someone that day. Maybe I hear something on the radio or I read something later that brings a Bible verse back to my mind. The three ways God has spoken to me are: through the Bible, through other people and through circumstances. Some people say they receive visions but I have never had one. I am not saying they didn’t, I just haven’t. God speaks in many ways just like my wife, verbal, body language and the occasional frying pan (just kidding). There is one thing that you can take to the bank though. If you feel like God is telling you to do something the He expressly forbid in the Bible then you can rest assured that it is not Him that is telling you that. God will never go against His own word.
Listening to God is not easy. It takes time and practice. There is nothing uber-spiritual about it. It is no more mystical than listening to your friend. The hard part is cutting out the distractions i.e. kids, sports, soap operas, spouses, bills, surgeries, basically life in general. God won’t take a back seat to anything. He wants your undivided attention, and you know what? He deserves it.
Remember- Learning to listen takes more time and effort than learning to talk, but the reward is worth it.