Listening For God

How easy is it for you to listen for God? Does Heaven seem silent at times? Do your prayers appear to hit the ceiling and just stop there? I struggled a bit to decide on this week’s blog title on whether or not I should substitute the word for with the word to.

When we get right down to it, sometimes God is speaking to us, but we just don’t like what He’s saying. We want Him to speak with neon signs or billboards or maybe in this time in history; Instagram posts or Facebook. We are waiting for these big moments in our lives that will answer our questions and prayers. We seek God for answers of what we should or should not do. What person to marry. What job to accept or decline. What home or car to buy. What to say to someone. What not to say to someone. Everything. And most of the time we hear the Holy Spirit nudging us in one direction or another. Or giving us the right words to say at the right time.

That is usually how we hear God’s direction. But sometimes for the really big decisions it just seems quiet, too quiet. Have you been there? Me too. And it can be frustrating.

I am a bit of a perfectionist, and I just wanna get it right. Not step out and find out, but more like shoot a dart and have it land perfectly on the bullseye on the first try.

Today I was reminded of the Prophet Elijah’s encounter with God. Elijah was hiding in a cave awaiting God to pass by. Reality was, he was hiding because he was scared. And lonely. He felt like he was the only one left who was following God and serving him. He was discouraged and complained to God. God told Elijah to wait and He (God) would pass by the opening to the cave. And then we are told, “A great and terrible wind tore the mountain apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.After the earthquake came fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.” (1 Kings 19:11-13, NIV).

After all that, in the end God says to Elijah “What are you doing here?” Like get up stop fearing everything and stop feeling sorry for yourself. Wow.

I mean I would be done after the earthquake and wind. But yeah fire too. And then the whisper. I suspect all the other natural phenomenon was to simply get Elijah’s attention and bring him out of the cave. But, also I doubt if there was much cave left after God broke apart the mountain with wind. And poor Elijah thought he was scared of what people could do to him.

We all have those moments in our life when it does appear that our whole world is falling apart and we need God so desperately. And then something happens to us. When we get rid of all of our distractions and reduce down what really matters, when our lives are shattered and our protections are removed, we are forced out to the entrance of our own caves, and there in that moment God whispers to us. The earthquakes, windstorms and fire of our lives, get our attention and prepare us to draw nearer to God and listen.

I would prefer to do without all the storms of course to hear God. I can sometimes be stubborn like Elijah though and want the billboards and neon signs, but most of the time I am only waiting to hear from God what I want Him to say. And I always want the message on my time table, not God’s. It is at those times I have to still my soul and be quiet to listen for that gentle whisper of God. And then get up, leave the cave of waiting and go where He leads me. God Bless You – Nancy

Are You A Warm Frog?

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones. – Paul in his letter to the church at Thessaloniki chapter 3 verses 11-12.

Well,……… are you? ………A warm frog? Confused? Don’t be, I’m going to explain my question in a bit. Today, I’m continuing in the book of the Thessalonians. It has a lot to offer in the way of encouragement for Christians who are going through trials and obstacles. It seems very fitting at this point in our own history to consider. Paul sent words of encouragement to the church in Thessalonicae, now Thessaloniki. If you are able to, I encourage you to read this important letter.

Back to the frogs. I apologize in advance if this is too graphic of an example for some reading this, but have you ever heard the story of boiling frogs? Yeah, kind of weird, I get it. Well, the story goes that if you want to boil a frog, you just need to put them in a pot of cold water and raise the temperature of the water slowly. And eventually, the water will boil and well, you guessed it the frog will be boiled. He will not notice the temperature getting hotter and will not jump out of the pot. Or so the story goes. I’m not sure. I have never tried it and I do not intend on trying it. And I’m not suggesting you do either. But, the point is this, complacency hits us all.

Like those frogs, who do not notice the temperature raising, we can sometimes get so complacent in our faith, that we fail to notice how we are getting entangled in matters of the world. What I mean is, we start to accept what everyone else is doing, instead of following what God desires of us. Or maybe it is that we just stop caring about others around us. Or about the world around us. And we focus on gossip, or politics, or our careers, or whatever makes US happy. We become focused on ourselves, instead of God, instead of loving others as He commands us to do, we judge, and fight, and slander and cause harm to others, even by our doing nothing to help others around us.

We are just complacent, happy frogs, just waiting around for someone or something else to make us happy. Oh, we might be great at attending church, but when we are home we slip back into our complacent lives, slipping back into ourselves and our own world. We don’t want to be uncomfortable or confronted about our personal lives. We just want to check a box that we have attended church for the week and go back to our warm baths of complacency. We don’t care if others are hurting and we only want to hear happy snack sized, dessert sermons. Never challenge us from the pulpits, or make us bring Bibles to church. Just keep us happy, entertain us, and let us throw some money into the offering to help out those “OTHER” people, that are so bad off compared with us.

I, of course, realize, that this is not all of us. Some of you are facing great obstacles for your faith, risking everything just to have a Bible, much less read it, but I’m still encouraging you to keep up the faith, just as Paul was doing in the first century. Hold onto hope that is found Christ.

To the rest of us, I’m including myself too- I am a work in progress- I challenge us to stop being happy getting by in our faith, and step out and deepen our faith. Study the bible to know what it REALLY says and what those words mean, not just take someone else’s word for it. Learn about the history of the Christian faith -not from skeptics- but from real scholars. Do your homework. Look for ways you can encourage others. Not just because it’s what everyone else at church is doing, but look for the needs that are not public, the people who need an encouraging word, maybe a friend, or coworker, or stranger. Just DON’T be a complacent, warm frog. Get out of the water, before it boils you. God Bless You, – Nancy