Sunday, September 22, 2013

Hearing the Voice of God

When my oldest two children were young, my husband and I did not attend church as we should.  We were members of a church --- we just didn't go.  We didn't become anti-church or anti-God, we just used our weekends to "enjoy ourselves."  And we had some pretty good justifications for our lifestyle (thanks Satan...not): we watched every week's service on TV, I did a daily devotion, our kids went to a Christian daycare.  So did we need corporate worship?

For awhile I felt that I didn't.  Then life began to get shaky.  Over a six month period, I had two miscarriages and Hurricane Ivan desecrated upon the city of Pensacola and planted black mold into our house rendering us homeless.  We moved into a 50's style hotel room (read... not the best hotel in town) and started looking for a house.  It was challenging living in such a small space with two little kids.  We had to eat out for every meal.  They had no room to play.  We were literally boxed into this tiny, tiny space.  Even in our disparaging circumstances, we could see God's continual provision for us.  I began to tell my husband, "When we get a house, we are going back to church."   I rationalized (thanks again, Satan) that all of our nice clothes were in storage, and we couldn't go to church without those clothes.

One Sunday, Stephen was working, so it was left to me to take the kids out for lunch.  We showed up at Red Lobster before the church rush so we wouldn't have a long wait.  We were seated in an empty side room and got ready to enjoy our meal.  As we sat there looking over the menu, a family came in with a precious little girl who had obviously just come from church.  I looked up at the little girl and while thinking how cute she was, I heard  a male voice say the words, "Get your children in church."  

I was startled.  I turned to look around to see who had spoken, but in that little side room, there was not one single male -- except for Jared, who had not spoken to me.   I will always believe with absolute certainty that God spoke to me.  I picked up my cell phone, called Stephen, and told him that when I left lunch, I was going to buy us suitable clothes for church (I was still hung up on that for some reason), and I was taking the kids to church the next week.  I was instantly convicted.

See, I had my salvation.  And I was feeding myself with devotion and a church service although it was on TV and not with my actual presence in a church.  But I had one GREAT failure.  I was not leading my children to be church goers.  I was not teaching them to set aside time for God.  I was not establishing a positive legacy for them.

I went and bought those oh so important churchy clothes, and we have not missed more than a Sunday at a time in the last ten years except when I was busy taking care of additional newborns in our family.

I am currently involved in a Bible study that is geared towards mentoring new Christians.  Tonight in class, we began to discuss how God speaks to us.  One gentleman asked our pastor if he believed that God had spoken to Abraham in an audible voice. 

So we ventured on to discuss some of the ways that God gets our attention. The most obvious way is that we can read His words in the Bible.  But what about when we aren't necessarily looking for His direction -- when we've chosen our own direction?  God can use other people to speak words of wisdom to us,  the Holy Spirit can move within us, we can face certain situations that make us turn from our misdeeds and seek God, and, yes, He can speak to us.

Why do we assume that God wouldn't talk to us if that's what it took?  He did not in recent years lose any of the abilities that He had in the Old Testament.  He spoke to Abraham. He made a bush burn to catch Moses's attention. He even let a donkey talk! If God wants to talk to us, He will talk to us.  He will do whatever He has to do to get our stubborn attention away from what we are busying ourselves with.

A girl in my Bible study brought up the point that we live incredibly fast, noisy lives.  We always have distractions with TV, our hectic social schedules, our cell phones, and on and on and on.  Sometimes we don't stop to listen to what God has to say and He has to get more drastic.

I encourage you to take some time to find a quiet place and ask God what He needs to tell you.