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Whisper to a Scream: Hearing God’s Voice

8 May

One of the most frequent questions asked when people are learning to hear God’s voice is, “How do I know if it’s me or God?” One answer to this question not only helps discern God’s voice compared to our own, but also gives insight into a principle of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Imagine you are in your room on a quiet night reading a good book; it’s just getting dark outside as it begins to rain. By the soft glow of your lamp, you snuggle in as the storm outside grows, blowing wind and pelting raindrops…suddenly “BANG,” a thunder clap echoes through the valley startling you!  

Here’s the Principle: In the natural realm, when you experience something, that experience will be the most real and vivid. In trying to recall the same event, it will only become duller. Meaning, if I asked you to recall a thunder clap, I can almost guarantee your recollection of that event will pale in comparison to the actual real event when you heard it firsthand.

However, when God speaks to us, often the first time you hear something He’s saying, it’s the quietest. When God speaks, it’s sometimes (not always) an internal whisper. Yet in time, the thing God spoke to you in the quiet of your heart, seems to grow clearer and louder over time almost to the point that it seems to be reverberating in your bones. The Principle: In the Kingdom of Heaven, everything only gets bigger and brighter, moving from glory to glory.  It’s a Kingdom that never fades or diminishes. “‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty.”  Haggai 2:9

Personal Experience:  My friend’s boyfriend and I didn’t get along; there was a mutual dislike between us. One night as I was falling asleep, I felt the slightest question come to mind, “Would you wash John’s car if God asked you to?” At first I disregarded the thought as insanity. The next day it seemed to breeze past me again, “Would you wash John’s car if God asked you to?” This time I was agitated and found the question obnoxious. By the third time, God asked me directly, “Would you wash John’s car if I asked you to?” Now I was convicted; I began to ponder my prideful and stubborn attitude toward my dear friend’s boyfriend. This car washing question was now haunting me!  Finally I faced up to the problem, “Lord,” I started, “I feel like you are challenging me to ‘love my enemies,’” I grumbled. “So the answer is ‘YES,’” I conceded. “If you asked me to wash John’s car, I would do it.”

“Good, just wanted to know,” is how I felt the Lord respond to the raw revelation of my heart. With a sigh of relief, I was glad that ordeal was over and in actuality God was NOT requesting I actually go and wash John’s car. The pay off…my attitude was now changed toward John, and in turn, so did our relationship. I took him and my friend out to dinner apologizing for my behavior; they graciously accepted and we all moved forward (it’s a good thing too because a few years later they got married).

God was increasingly vibrating an attitude out of my heart until it shook free. What began as a passing whisper in my soul, intensified into a throbbing concern as God’s voice rocked my being.

What passing thought might God be using to speak to you?

Do you have a fleeting idea that challenges you in a loving, scary way?

Don’t dismiss it, turn aside and take a look at it; see if God grows it with intensity within you?

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Public Prayer…He hated it and so did I!

22 Apr

As the man approached, my guard went up; while his words conveyed he was simply a stranger in distress, I found myself doubting his story. We were in the heart of San Francisco, two blocks from the water; Ava and I sat waiting for my father outside a Starbucks on Market.

“Good evening mama, could I bother you for just one second,” the man had made eye contact with me and was approaching humbly, his two boys in tow. “I was wondering if you could help me out. You see, we just came into town and this morning both our luggage and our car were stolen. I have called a local hostel and they are willing to accept us for the night, but we need some money for a cab to get to the east side of town. Can you spare any extra change?”

Having lived in the Bay Area all of my life, requests for financial aid from people on the streets is a common occurrence. Are they really in trouble? Maybe…maybe not. Are they lying to you for money? Maybe…maybe not. Yet while his story might or might not have been true, his question was still the same, “Can you spare any change?” At this point in my life, the answer to that question simply depended on my mood and what I had in my purse. Most times the answer was “No,” and I would walk off quickly, a tinge of guilt trailing behind me, hoping they wouldn’t ask again or shout something rude. Other times, I simply ignored the question, trying to pretend I hadn’t heard them or hoping they were probably speaking to someone else (avoiding eye contact is essential in this scenario). And rarely, when I was feeling really generous, I would hand over a few dollars. In my head, this looked a lot like Mother Teresa ministering in the slums.

As I was about to make a decision on how to respond, my dad came out with his coffee and joined us. And while the gentleman re-explained his situation to my dad, I watched his two boys; they were about Ava’s age, five and six. Climbing all over the brick planter box, they appeared completely uninterested and emotionally unconnected with their father’s attempts to get strangers interested in their cause.

After hearing the man out, my dad made a decision and asked; “Can we pray for you and your sons?” my dad asked the man.

“Wait, what…No!” I thought to myself. “The man is asking for money not prayer!” I was repulsed by the idea for a number of reasons. 1. I don’t know these people. 2. He didn’t ask for prayer. 3. We are in PUBLIC. 4. We are in PUBLIC. 5. Did I mention, we are in PUBLIC…in the middle of San Francisco…with cars and business people passing by!

While I was having my own issues with my dad’s “monkey wrench,” it seemed so was our new acquaintance. Almost like a teleprompter, his face displayed extreme disgust. He seemed annoyed at us for wasting his time, and to add insult to injury, now he had to endure some old man’s ministry time with no payoff at the end.

Reluctantly, very reluctantly, all six of us formed a circle and joined hands on the sidewalk of the bustling city-center. Just before I closed my eyes for prayer, I caught a glimpse of the two boy’s faces. My cold heart melted as I saw their eagerness for prayer. These two boys, who just a minute prior were in their own world, trying to avoid their father’s “hustle,” were now completely engaged and anticipating someone doing something different, something that felt like love.

I don’t remember what my dad prayed; I’m sure it was amazing. What moved me (and I think the boys too) was not the words of the prayer, but simply the power of praying for someone personally. Caring, really caring, for the needs of another person enough to petition God on the matter, that was sparing something maybe even more valuable than money; that was real “change.”

“Could we spare some change?” Apparently that was the same question God had for me. Was there room enough in my life for “change?” Could I drop my prejudices and judgments? Was giving and caring for the needs of others something I even had the right to quantify or pass through a series of litmus test for validity?

As the man grabbed his boys, thanked us curtly for the prayer, and moved onto his next prospect, the boys’ eyes lingered on my father. Still in shock, but quietly grateful for what just happened, I began to notice the strongest, most fragrant smell of roses. It was as if a bouquet was right under my nose. As I panned the area looking for flower carts or passing perfume wearers, nothing seemed like a logical explanation. And as the wafting sweetness stayed for nearly five minutes as we made our way to the cable car, it seemed to me, this was a gift from God in acknowledgement for my “Change.”

While my story is great, here’s a real class act!

Luke 10:30-37 Parable of the Good Samaritan

30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.

31 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.

33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’

36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.

37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”

Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”