Nothing is to stand between us and God—not our own ego needs, not our cultural standards of behavior, not our family’s ideas about the choices we should make during our lifetimes, or how we should think. Nothing, if we believe in God and all his covenants and promises to us that the Bible expresses, is to come between us and God. Our part is to lay each issue as it becomes apparent to us on the altar and to pray for His healing and His transformative work on our judgments, our fears, our angers, our guilt and shame—whatever we have clung to in the past as motivation for our behavior and thoughts. We cannot do this work ourselves; we are to close to the subject—ourselves—to be able to see what needs to be let go of and when. Only God can see us without prejudice or attachment, only God can see the road ahead with His purpose in mind for each of us in His sight.
As our prayers about all that stands between us and God begin to take hold and He does His healing work, we can feel the changes happening in our attitudes and in our willingness to follow Jesus more freely. For God will transform us from the inside out so that, like the encounter with Christ that Paul had on the road to Damascus, we can become more and more Christ’s servant in this world.
Our beliefs will carry us but only so far. We need to focus on God’s presence in our lives—on what He is actually blessing us with and to live in gratitude for all He does. And we need to focus on His voice in our minds and give up our way of doing things to embrace His way, His timing, His love and forgiveness. The only way that I know to be able to hear that “still small voice” of 1 Kings 19:12 KJV is to become an observer of our much louder thoughts, especially the ones that have been with us from our parents and our culture that have guided us and chided us since childhood.
I look at all these old thoughts in me at “old friends!” They are only to be recognized for their persistence in us, not for what they are trying to get us to do. They constitute the “shoulds” of our existence, not the direction that God would lead us in away from the world’s influence. As we recognize and become an observer of these old thoughts when we are sitting quietly in God’s presence, we no longer feel compelled to live as they suggest. We no longer feel moved by them emotionally; we can even name the source of some of them, but we are no longer bound to them or by them. We no longer have to embrace these “shoulds” as the motivation for what we do or say.
When we can finally just be an observer of these old thoughts in us, we can begin to hear that “gentle whisper” as the NIV version translates God’s quiet presence in our minds, in our beings. And, as we do what God suggests to us, we will find that, no matter how unfamiliar the request was to us, everything that God suggests affirms our deeper, truer selves. After a while of following His suggestions, we are eager to try each one, because of the positive effect on our lives. God knows us so well!
There will be those gentle whispers or suggestions from someone we know or something that leaps out at us from a written page—a myriad of ways that God will communicate to us. Sometimes, His words will be challenging, like this one for me, “How can I say I love God, if I can’t love my mother?” Other times they will be extremely helpful, like this one when my husband’s cancer came back and was raging in his body, “If I can just take all possible outcomes equally, well then….” I had been trying to hide from the consequences of the cancer’s return, but after hearing God’s suggestion, I was able to view the situation without any fear. And then God gave me a gift of faith that carried me through the next two months supporting my husband, our adult children and our friends until he died. I have never felt so held and so loved. And still resides in me.
Sometimes it will just be a whisper to take another route home. Or to say “____” to the person you’re with. The suggestions come as they are needed and help us to live our days in peace and joy and love. The more we listen to them and do what they suggest, the deeper our trust and faith God and His provenance will be. The more we trust in Him and His ways, we can even begin to love and forgive ourselves as we see how God is always treating us with His love and forgiveness. Everything in our lives, especially the fulfillment of the purpose for which we were born into this world, depends on our willingness to surrender everything in us to God.
We can begin to look at our challenges as an invitation to see things differently, to adopt God’s wisdom for what happens to us, and to grow in the understanding of who we are and whose we are. And as we grow in wisdom and acceptance of all that is in our lives, we also grow in our ability to see our fellow men and women as God’s children, neighbors and foreigners as worthy of His love and forgiveness as we are ourselves. Then, we can bring His love, His grace, His blessings to everyone we meet. That is a part of each of our purposes as He created us; how we are to do that? God will tell us, when we are ready to assume His goals for us. And then, we will experience such joy and creativity and fulfillment as we follow His “still small voice” to our purpose to serve God in all that we do, sharing His love and faithfulness everywhere we go.
Questions to ponder over the week: Does my belief in God carry me in my life lead me to interpret His Word? Or do I depend upon God’s voice in my heart and mind to lead me? Am I willing to surrender to His suggestions or do I cringe at them and fail to do what He asks? Am I really willing to go wherever He leads me?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who await God’s suggestions and act upon what He tells us to do. May we be free from the world’s influence on us and only listen to God’s Indwelling Spirit. May we live in the kingdom while we are still here on earth.
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