I am reading a booklet called, "God Guides". It is a compilation of journal entries written by a woman named Mary Geegh who was a missionary in India for 38 years after WWII until she retired. She learned early on in her ministry that she needed to have a quiet time each morning if she was going to have success in her ministry and life. But while I hear "quiet time" and think about praying or reading the bible, when she said quiet time she meant quiet. She wasn't making noise telling God what she needed but instead sad quietly listening to what God was telling her. And as she proceeded through her ministry she often said to people, "I don't know the answer but God does so let's go sit and listen to Him. He will tell you what to do." She would bring the person into a prayer room she had set up, hand them a notebook and tell them to write down whatever thought came to their mind.
I often will say things like, "then God told me..." but many times when I suggest that someone ask God for an answer they will tell me they don't hear God talk to them like I do.
I think we make it too complicated. I like how Mary did it, gave a notebook and said to write down whatever thought came to mind. We give ourselves too much credit for our good ideas. I don't hear an audible voice. I just get a thought.
Sometimes I tell God a problem and then I get a thought so I respond to it as if it wasn't my thought but God's voice. Because I often find it is.
Maybe it would go like this:
"Lord, I am mad at so and so"
"What did you do?"
"I didn't do anything it was them"
"but what did you do about it?"
"I didn't start it"
"but did you help?"
"But they owe me an apology!"
"Well you can wait for one but is it really worth feeling angry?"
And on and on like that until I am ready to submit to God and follow his direction. Then I get the real word from God. Maybe to go apologize myself, or confront about the situation or maybe I just need to let it go. God knows and when I am ready to obey He tells me.
You have to be willing to hear God and be vulnerable. There are several stories in the book of people who heard God ask them about something in their lives seemingly unrelated to their problem. They would leave Mary's home in a huff only to return a few hours or days later ready to admit the relationship between the problem and what God told them. Maybe they were having a problem with their business because their marriage was struggling or they came with a struggling child and God told them how to change themselves rather than how to change their child.
It can be hard to obey God. It is hard to listen because sometimes what He says is hard to hear. And even harder to obey.
I have learned over the years that it is very rewarding to listen to God even when it is hard. Even when I don't like what he is telling me about myself. Even when He asks me to do things I don't want to do. When I obey I experience joy and peace I wouldn't otherwise know.
But I have decided against obeying God plenty in my life too. He doesn't need me. He just used someone else. God didn't loose out, I did. But I will never know how much.
This past summer God told me that our women's ministry needed to spend a year praying and listening to God. I didn't really know how it was going to look, what we were going to do or who would pray with me. I just saw the vision, got excited, told a bunch of other women, got them excited and now we are meeting in a week to begin monthly praying together for the women of our church and the women's ministry and ask God what we should do and how we can minister to the women of our church. I told the women this wasn't going to be a discussion of what we should do with women's ministry this was going to be a time to pray and listen.
In preparation I have been busy meeting with other godly women in the church, praying, and reading this "God Guides" book. And it has me thinking way beyond women's ministry with this prayer and listening plan. As I have been praying and listening to God in my personal life I feel life is changed. Recently a friend called with a struggle and I encouraged her to listen to God, something that would have been a hollow comment in the past, but that day I said with conviction of its power when I told her, "I don't know the answer but God does. He will tell you what to do." And I meant it, not a blow off but the most powerful thing I could tell her to do.
I don't know what my girlfriend will decide. I am looking forward to hearing. I don't know what He is going to ask us to do with Women's Ministry at our church but I can't wait to find out what it will be. And I don't know what my future or my family's future holds but I know God does and I am listening.
One of my favorite stories from the book so far tells of this woman being out of town at a conference where she met a man whose home had recently burned down and all he owned was the suit he was wearing and his bible. After talking with him she heard God tell her to give the man all the money in her purse. Well she wasn't sure about that because she needed to buy a train ticket to get home that day. But she had learned to obey God when He told her something so she put it in an envelope and gave it to the man.
Now this is amazing but that isn't what really struck me about the story. The amazing part is that she then went to the train station to go home. WHY? She had no money. No way of paying for a train ticket. Was she just going to sit at the station until money fell from the sky? Was she going to walk up to the ticket agent and tell him that God told her to give all her money away so she was going to need a free ticket home? She doesn't record her thoughts. This part that I find so amazing didn't seem amazing enough to her to record her thoughts. She had so much faith in God's provision in her life that she simply went to the train station. If God wanted her to give away all her money then he had another way of paying for the ticket. She would just do her usual routine and wait for him to tell her what to do next.
Well, as she was walking up to the train station a young man comes running out and hands her a ticket! He had seen her put her money in an envelope to give the man and God told him to run to the train station and buy her a ticket before she arrived. So he did!
Seriously you can't make these stories up! This is how God works. When we walk in faith, trust Him and listen for his voice.
It is a beautiful thing.
John 12:49 "For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it."