Have you ever been about to do, or say, something when a voice inside your head says, “No, not now!”? You pause and then realize you’re glad you did?
Perhaps you have been struggling with a major issue or physical pain, and despite frequent petitions to God, nothing seems to be happening. Have you been praying for clear direction, a vision, a “sign from heaven” so you’ll know exactly what to do? Is God ignoring you; or is he speaking to you and you’re missing the message because you’re still talking? I don’t know about you, but my big challenge is learning to practice my “shut-ups” after I have placed my petitions before God in prayer.
Sometimes I think we are wired very much like an old army radio set. These were wonderful machines, but the one major challenge was that they could either transmit, or they could receive; never both at the same time. You had to learn to send your message, then cease transmitting and listen for the reply. You had to practice your “shut ups”.
Never fear, God hears your prayers and he will reply. Psalm 55 says, “As for me, I call to God and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.” Psalm 55: 16-17 (NIV). Jesus himself assured us that he will reply, when he said, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” John 15:7 (NIV)
How might God reply to you?
God may reply through Scripture. Have you ever noticed a particular verse keeps popping into your head; or that there seems to be a common theme to what you are reading at home, and hearing in the sermon, or on the radio?
He may reply directly to you. We read many accounts of this in the Bible. One that strikes very close to my heart is when he spoke directly to Saul. If you’d like to know why, just ask.
God may use others as his messenger. Again, we read many accounts of this in the Bible and the messengers may be angels or other people.
A few days ago, I had an amazing experience. In fact, the whole day was an amazing experience.
It began with a phone call from our HVAC contractor asking if they could move our appointment from next Monday to today. I paused for a moment, thinking why bother; then I thought, oh why not. I agreed to the switch and the technician arrived a few hours later to complete his work. Nothing too spectacular there, at least not until you add in the phone call that came right after my agreeing to the appointment switch. It was from a friend asking if I might be available next Monday to take her to the hospital for some rather important tests, wait there, and then bring her home. After I said that I could (her appointment time was exactly the time the technician would have been arriving), she told me she was very worried about the tests and really wanted Teresa and me to be there with her, but with how crazy my calendar usually is, she could only hope.
That evening, a friend of mine was telling me of his experience on the previous Sunday. After church, he decided he was going to cycle out to the Aviation Museum to enjoy an afternoon with history. He arrived at a fork in the road and paused as a couple, also on bicycles, pedaled by in the direction of Petrie Island. He thought for a moment and decided that maybe Petrie Island would be a nicer destination. So he turned and followed them. “It was weird”, he said, “No matter how fast or slow I pedaled, the distance between us never changed.” When he arrived at Petrie Island, he pulled up to the couple and introduced himself. In the course of the conversation, he said that he and his wife used to walk a fair bit; but that he now had such severe pain in one foot, that walking was no longer a joy – thus the switch to cycling. The couple asked about his wife and he explained that she had died of cancer some four years ago. They expressed their condolences and soon they were all on their way back to Orleans. Again, he never seemed to gain or lose distance with them. When they came to where he would turn, the couple stopped and waited. When he arrived, they asked, “When did the foot pain start?” “About four years ago, not long after my wife died” was his reply. “We have a message for you. God has been trying to tell you that she is with him and that you can let go of the pain. He says that you are not listening to what he is saying to you!” With that, they said goodbye and pedaled away.
Were these events coincidental; or God’s hand? Does God also know my calendar is (too) crazy and did he decide to create some space? Were the couple commissioned by God sent to deliver his message directly?
I can’t answer for you, but I know what I believe and I also know that in the second story, my friend has taken the message to heart.
Pray – AND LISTEN!
“5 The LORD watches over you—the LORD is your shade at your right hand; 6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; 8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” Psalm 121:5-8 (NIV)
Thanks be to God! Amen.