Monday, May 16, 2011

Hearing From God

When I was growing up, we were taught that the only way God spoke to us today was through the Bible. Most of the time that meant the Bible as interpreted and explained by the man preaching from the pulpit up front. There were numerous Bible study aids and approved teachers that could further explain anything anything we needed to know. God may have spoken to the saints in the Bible, but that ended when the canon of Scripture was complete. Folks who claimed that God spoke to them were out there on the fringe.

Over the past few years, my views on the subject have changed. As I have been exposed to the wider variety of people and ideas in the Body of Christ, I come to accept that God does speak to his people today. I realize that the One who created the universe can speak to anybody he pleases, in any way he chooses. Up until the last couple of months however, I wondered if, and how, God would ever speak to me.

While reading Walking With God by John Eldridge, it was suggested to me that I try an exercise that is in the book. The exercise was to ask God how I felt I was doing, and then to ask him how he saw me. So, I decided to give it a try. I asked what I thought about myself, what I really felt deep down. I was thinking something along the lines of "okay," "could be better," or something along those lines. While I was asking, the word, "failure" came to me. I immediately recognized it because I knew that was exactly how I saw myself. Not that I was a total, abject failure, but that I just never quite measured up, that whatever I did just wasn't quite good enough. Needless to say, that threw me for quite a loop.

The next part of the exercise was to ask God what he thought. So, I asked, and waited for the answer. And waited. And waited. All night I asked God what he thought. I began to wonder if maybe I was right, and that God agreed with me. On my way to work the next morning, I continued to pray. As I did the words "clay jar" came to mind. I realized that God was speaking to me. Not in an audible voice, but through my heart. God was telling me that I was not a failure, but that I was a clay jar for him to fill. Over the next few weeks, God continued to expand on that idea, and I am learning to listen and recognize the voice of my Shepherd. I am learning that that voice can come any number of ways, from a song on the radio to something I read, from a prompting deep in my heart to a friend's words to me. God still speaks through Scripture, but now I firmly believe that we cannot limit how God chooses to communicate.

By the way, try the exercise. You may be surprised.

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