Frequently flyers in the mail give special offers for us to go have our ears tested—to see if we are hearing well. Do we need assistive devices?
Spiritually, maybe we also need reminders. Perhaps, The Holy Spirit should send us notices with the question, “Are You Listening?” How would you answer that question?
Many things get in the way of my listening—busyness; ; my own list of what I think needs to be done, ; difficulty clearing out the old and nasty messages so I can hear something new. Or, maybe I haven’t ever listened enough that I recognize the voice of the One speaking.
When we know someone, we recognize the voice of the one calling. Why, because we have heard that voice so often. Also, maybe it is the kind of messages we are used to receiving that we would recognize the caller.
Recently, someone stopped me with a question: “Jeanie, I often hear you say that God said such and such to you. Do you really hear that? Is it a voice out loud or what?”
Yes, I do say that frequently—often times with some hesitance because I don’t want to sound as if I think I have the answers--but rather I share in a spirit of wanting to be authentic rather than take credit for the idea. Most often, I call that process a “knowing”. It could not just be my own idea but as I have prayed asking for help, I have received an answer: One that I would never have thought of on my own.
Come to think of it—that absolutely makes so much sense. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would add to our lives in many ways. One of the most crucial, I believe, is His promise to guide us. Many times the path ahead is not visible or the next step to take; but as I take time to listen, He gives me the guidance that I need. I would not want to even try to live without this reality in my life.
Sometimes the guidance is to just wait and trust. We have two enormous events in our lives right now: Lyn having total hip replacement April 18th and a move on May 5th to Ritzville, Washington to serve as co-pastors. Sometimes as I have asked Spirit for guidance, He gently reminds me to not struggle, but to wait for His timing and His gifts. It has been amazing—His answers are far above what I would even have asked or tried to do on my own.
Many years ago, even before Lyn and I were married, I asked a pastor how I could know God’s voice/ answer. He taught me to ask and then leave it with Him. The answer was when I felt peace about a specific response. Lyn and I have used that process all through our married life. Oh, yes, we have made some serious missteps, but our basic approach is to pray and then wait until each of has a deep peace about an idea.
As I mentioned earlier, we are moving to Menno Church in Ritzville, Washington in less than a month to serve as co-pastors in a rural church. How did we know to do that? The first connection came through an email asking if we might consider moving there. However, we had begun to feel that maybe our home in Payette was where we were to be. We did pray and left it with the Spirit.
In several weeks time, each of us shared with the other that we were beginning to feel peace about at least talking with the Search Committee there. As we spent a long weekend there, we began to sense more confirmation that this was the place for us. One morning while there, I opened up my new Bible, a gift from a special friend. This Bible has some illustrated verses on pages that one can color. As my Bible fell open, there on the right hand column was the message, “I am sending you to a land of milk and honey”, verifying the call we were feeling.
Sometimes, it is a sentence in a book I am reading; sometimes it comes through my journaling; sometimes I am taking time to sit quietly and reflectively and then I hear His guidance; sometimes it is when I really need help, such as my computer refusing to print and I don’t know what to do.
The Spirit loves to speak words of love and guidance to us. Our part is to make the time to listen—and do it often enough that we recognize His voice.
Maybe you think this is all hokey-pokey. It will be that for you until you decide to give it a try and really listen. It has some similarity to what happened to a friend of mine who asked the doctor what heart medications he could stop taking. She told him he didn’t have to take any of them. However, he would have a very short time to live. You don’t have to take time to listen to the Holy Spirit. But, you might miss some very important guidance that could rev up your life.
PS: Taking time to listen may be the most important task you can do—even more than a list.
TVTD Spiritual Director