After two nights of interrupted sleep to drop off or pick up my middle-schooler, I was kind of in a fog on Sunday morning. I like to summarize our discussion, but for the life of me, I don’t remember much of it. The principle was that listening to God is essential to walking with God. I know we started with Psalm 81, because that much was in the book. There are some questions in there as well, but I think I will just do my own thing here, since listening to God is kind of a theme of mine.
To be honest, it wasn’t always. I think when I was young I enjoyed having conversations with God, not that He always said much, but I would get answers often enough to keep me going. I’ve blogged about some of them, like the time He said He wasn’t finished with me and that gave me just enough to keep putting one foot in front of the other despite a rather serious depression, rooted in grieving that I simply did not know how to do. I can’t put my finger on exactly when I stopped hearing from Him. I know I was hearing Him again around when I graduated from college. But then for years at a time it seemed like my prayers did little more than bounce off the ceiling. So I understand what people are getting at when they say they never hear from God.
But I think there are reasons we get to where we can’t hear His voice and they usually involve things that hurt us. Whenever I seem to get into my self-protective mode and pull into my shell, I have a hard time hearing the Lord. I have no doubt that God can use everything that comes across our paths for good eventually. I must say, that I have had a hard time learning to trust Him to be my defender. It sure seemed that there was a lot coming against me in my twenties and I did not handle much of it well. It has been about 7 years now since the Lord pretty much brought me full circle.
It started with a prayer about ministry opportunities two years before that. The prayer, instead of leading directly into some new ministry, led me into a place where I had no strength to speak of, and needed healing. After two years gathering myself together, I found myself at a place where God had spoken to me in the past and oddly enough, it seemed He was calling to me again. My yes led to a year of incredible upheaval, both internal and external, which basically had me talking to God a lot more than I had been. Of course, most of it was on the lines of, what are you doing, God? But He didn’t seem to mind anyway.
Finally He got to the point of asking, will you trust Me? I couldn’t hide from God, He knew I had trust issues. But it was kind of a revelation to me, even so. The best I could manage was that I was willing to learn. I purchased a book that was recommended to me, and it turned out to be about the 4 streams approach to inner healing. Boy did I need that. And God made sure I experienced exactly what the book was talking about.
The first thing that really got to me, after some faith building stuff about being willing to listen to God, had to do with that self-protection problem. I’ve always been a little like a tortoise, pulling into my shell for protection when I feel threatened. But here, that was addressed as a form of hardness of heart. I sure never intended that. I could remember a time when I vowed to let the bad stuff slide off me. No wonder I had stopped hearing from God right after that! Of course, after a few years He had opened me back up, using another believer who walked into my life at the right time and walked right back out. Most of the time the significant people in our lives are those who are with us day after day, year after year, spouses, kids, best friends. But God can and often does use single encounters to make course corrections for us.
At any rate, now that I knew that I had unknowingly hardened my heart, I had to let Him deal with that. Actually that happened on another day, if I recall. It seems to me though, that I had always had the wrong idea about what hardness of heart was. I had thought it was rebellion, but actually upon rereading some of those old testament stories, the rebellion was preceded by a lack of trust in God. So, I am going to go out on a limb here and say that if you realize this is speaking to you, maybe you should take that to the Lord and ask Him to help you trust Him enough to come out of your shell and let Him be your defender, so you can hear his voice.
There is a lot more to this story, so I will have to have a part 2.