If it doesn't count for Christ, it doesn't count.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hey, Me, did you just feel that???

I was going to blog about this, and then I wasn't, and now I am.  The nature of a blog, I suppose, is that it can be very personal.  Maybe I am not as good at it as I think I am, but I generally try to disguise or camouflage just how personal some of my blogs are - but, some, not so much. (see what I mean?)  Anyway, I cannot get away from the personal nature of this one. So here goes.

I like it when God uses His inside voice.  No, I'm not being sacrilegious or blasphemous. God is not the child, I am.  I am talking about the voice of God that comes from within those of us who are Christian. I am talking about the Holy Spirit. And sometimes He whispers.

He has an outside voice, and it takes many forms. It might be in the form of a hurricane, or an earthquake, or a thunderstorm, or an event like a tragedy of some kind. (His loud voice) You will even hear His outside voice in what seems to be the most mundane or inocuous matters of daily life. (His quieter version) Does God cause or allow such things to happen just so He can speak to us?  Maybe. Maybe such occurrences are wholly His voice, and then maybe He sometimes allows them for other purposes, but still He speaks through them. The thing is, God's outside voice cannot be ignored, particularly the loud one. It can be, and very often is, misinterpreted as something else altogether. But, there is no doubt that God has been heard even if He has not been acknowledged or understood.

That inside voice, though . . . I believe that it is always heard, often ignored, and too rarely understood.  At least, that's the way it is in my life.  This would be a very long writing if I were to recount all the times I have missed the inside voice only to have to hear the outside voice.

You see, I believe that God always speaks to you and I from "the inside" first. That's the kind of relationship He wants with us.  And the ability for us to enjoy such a relationship with our creator came about through the sacrifice of Jesus. Because Jesus died in our place, was buried, and was resurrected we have been made righteous before God.  Therefore, we can speak directly to God, and God to us.  Because Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to live within us, we actually live with God in us! This is not the long distance relationship we too often make it out to be.  Sometimes, though, we're not listening and God gets our attention in other ways.

I wish I was writing today about the inside voice I heard, because I did hear it. But, the truth is, I missed it.  I wasn't paying attention, I didn't think it was anything from God. I didn't think it was anything at all, to be truthful.  The whisper from within went unacknowledged. Suddenly and unexpectedly He used His outside voice. He spoke through an event, something that happened. And I heard Him, and I knew instantly, what he had been trying to get me to do. And, in that case, it is too late. And now I am gaining an understanding of something I should have been paying closer attention to. (And I probably won't use that many "and's" again in the same paragraph.)

I get these "reactions" to people. I don't pick 'em. Sometimes I cross paths with a person, often at church, and there is a reaction inside of me. I can only describe this as a disturbance.  Not that it is a good disturbance or a bad one.  It may be either.  It's like water that is smooth as glass and still, and then some unseen force causes the gentlest of disturbances on the surface. Much like a quiet whisper would disturb the air around us.  I see these people and, where the water was still, there is a disturbance.  That's all. 

Now, this is not like the normal array of reactions I have to all people.  Am I right in assuming that we all react to everyone we see in some way or another?  There are people that I really look forward to seeing. There doesn't always have to be active communication. It may be a wave, or a nod, or a smile.  They may not even see me that I know of. I'm just glad to say to myself, "It's good to see (him or her)."  (I hope that doesn't sound "stalky"!) My wife might disagree with this assessment as she is of the opinion that I have to speak to everybody in the place before I can leave!  But, the point is that I do have identifiable reactions.

Sometimes the reaction is to be drawn to the person. I have to admit that sometimes the reaction is to head in the opposite direction. But, again, these are always identifiable reactions.  I am aware of the reaction and the people involved.

The other - those whispers - I had not even perceived as a reaction until Monday night.

I answered the phone.  Someone in our church had died.  The call was intended for my wife, but I got the message. God spoke in His outside voice and the little ripple that I had barely noticed the day before became a tidal wave.  I didn't know this person well. Only in passing. A "Hey, how ya' doin'?" kind of passing at that. It became so very clear to me at the very moment that I heard of her death that God had wanted me to say something to her.  And I was reminded of those times that the water had been disturbed when I had encountered her at church.  Immediately behind that revelation came reminders of other disturbances, other people.

What "something" meant, I don't know.  He would have told me had I been paying attention and had I been obedient. She was saved, so she is in Heaven now. I thought she was, but, I initially wondered, "Oh, no! Was I supposed to help her come to know Jesus?"  I made inquiries with someone who would know and I'm now comfortable in the assurance of her salvation.  So, what then was our little talk to be about?  Maybe I could have ministered to her in some small way . . . prayed with her, or for her . . . been an encouragement in some way.  Maybe the Lord intended for it to be the other way around. (It's not like I'm all that when it comes to personal ministry.) I don't know. The thing is, whatever God intended for me to do, I didn't.  I let all three of us down.  And, no, she didn't die because God wanted to get through to me.  (see preceding statement)  God did speak to me, though, and He made some things very clear.

I don't understand why I could not hear Him before. After all, I do perceive very clearly "Go pray with this person", "Go speak to that person", among other things, very clearly at times.  Perhaps I am sometimes just so wrapped up in myself and my own problems that I don't recognize God's voice when I hear it.  A constant request before God is that He use me.  Maybe I am thinking in terms of what I would consider to be more dramatic and grandiose - bigger - ways, so I don't even pay attention to the "little things" that He calls upon me to do. And yet I consider myself to be well aware that there is nothing in any way small about anything that God gives us to do.

The thing I know now is that I've been missing it, not only with this one person, but others as well.

Well, I'm thankful that He has opened my eyes to see my failures.  My prayer is that He will make me sensitive to feel as a jolt the slightest of disturbance or ripple upon the smooth, still waters of my spirit.  And that I will have the presence of mind in every instance to recognize his whispers, to stop and ask, "OK, Lord, what is this one all about?  What do you want me to do?"

1 Samuel 3:1-11 (NIV)

The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions.

One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the LORD, where the ark of God was. Then the LORD called Samuel.

Samuel answered, “Here I am.”  And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”  But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.

Again the LORD called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”

Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.

A third time the LORD called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”  Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”

Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

And the LORD said to Samuel . . .

I do love His inside voice. And I'm just as thankful for His outside voice.  One says, "I'm with you." The other says, "I'm not giving up on you."   

Lord, I love Your voice. Please make my heart attentive, that I may hear the softest whisper of Your inside voice, as you speak Spirit to spirit. May the slightest stir of the smooth, still waters of my spirit be as a wave that drives me to Your intent  And forgive me, Lord, for the times that my spiritual deafness causes You to speak from the outside.

I suppose I could have just simply put "I have missed it" at the top of the page and posted this video.  You would have gotten the message and I would not have confessed a failure. This is not just about me, though.  I hope it is a help to someone else.