Monday, August 16, 2010
Are You Listening?
Is there a God up there or not? If you go by the way that I live my life, you'd probably wonder. It's amazing how many times I find myself living as though God doesn't exist, or at least as though He's disinterested in me and the events in my life. Yet I know that is the farthest from the truth.
There have been times in my life when I've sensed the presence of God in such a real and tangible way that I was sure I'd open my eyes and see Him there. But there have been other times when I've prayed, even wept in desperation, looking for a glimpse of Him, but felt nothing. Then I'm reminded... it's called faith for a reason.
Hebrews 11:1 says "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." The rest of the chapter gives us a glimpse into the lives of people who lived out this faith walk. People like Abraham, Jacob and Joseph, who walked in relationship with a God that they could not physically see. The whole thing is totally nonsensical to a lot of people.
But I do think that is precisely the point. God wants us to choose Him; not be so overwhelmed by the evidence that we have no other choice. If you desire to see God, you'll see Him everywhere; if not, you won't. You either marvel at the beauty of God`s creation and the intricate systems that have been established in order to sustain human life on this planet, or you marvel instead at the way that impersonal time and chance have resulted in the statistically improbable beauty of this planet within this solar system, within this galaxy within the universe. What are the odds?
That's why it declares in Hebrews 11:6 that "...without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." And this is the part where I sometimes fail. I do believe in God; I have built my life upon that faith. However, there have been times when I have failed to live that way.
I'm sure I'm like many others who tend to be too independent. I like to solve my own problems wherever possible and, often, I turn to God as my final alternative. Yet this flies in the face of the way that God intended for us to live. He desires relationship with us, not merely religious service out of some kind of guilt motivation.
Throughout Scripture we see God calling us to this kind of lifestyle, particularly as God revealed Himself through Jesus. He modelled that kind of relationship for us. It didn't matter what He was doing; how busy He was, He always found the time to get alone with God the Father. It was the relationship which was key in His accomplishing His purpose.
So, how do we follow this model? How do we live our lives in such a way as to demonstrate that the God we serve is alive and working?
First of all, it must be intentional. Like any relationship, in order to grow in it, we must work at it. King David, who was called "a man after God's own heart" said in Psalm 5:3 "In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation." I have found it makes a huge difference if I take time in the morning to reaffirm my commitment to God. Too many people rely on their past experience and neglect the relationship.
It's not only the morning, though. I've learned, in whatever situation I find myself, to ask the question, where is God in this? Since Scripture clearly teaches us that God is intimately involved in the details of our lives, it makes sense to look for His handiwork. What has been most helpful for me is to look at each challenge through the lens of John 10:10.
In this verse, Jesus says, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." What we see clearly represented in this verse is the spiritual reality taking place around us. The first truth we need to understand is that we have an enemy, and he's trying to destroy us. The second reality is that we have a God who loves us, who calls Himself the Good Shepherd, and who has come to give us life. 1 John 3:8 tells us that "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work."
I ask three questions based upon these realities. The first question is: What is the enemy trying to accomplish in this situation? The second is: What is God trying to do in this situation? The third is the question that reveals where the rubber meets the road. In light of those two realities, what ought I to do in this situation? Living life in these terms brings us into alignment with what is taught in the Proverbs. Proverbs 3:5-6 teaches "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."
So, is there a God, or not. Absolutely there is, and He wants to be known by us. He speaks to us through His Word and by His Spirit. In order to hear Him, therefore, we must take the time to read the Bible and to spend the time in prayer, not just talking, but listening as well. Try it this week, you might be surprised at what you hear.
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