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Hearing But Not Listening
7 October 2010
I had so much to say in my last article — Living For a Living — that I was not able to share it all. So I will continue with today's article, which is the fourth installment in my series which explores my circumstances of being unemployed for ten months now, after having been fired from my job at the ElijahList last Christmas. The first part of that series is The Agony and the Ecstasy, the second part is The Good and the Perfect, and the third part is Living For a Living. To have a fuller understanding of what I'm sharing today, you will definitely want to read those three previous articles first.
Today I want to share with you what I have been learning about hearing God's voice. I'm assuming that you believe Christians CAN hear God's voice. Yeshua (Jesus) said: "My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me" (John 10:27). If you belong to Yeshua, the Good Shepherd, then you CAN hear His voice, and that's that.
It's one thing to HEAR God saying something to you, but as I experienced recently, it's quite another thing to perceive or understand what He is saying.
Ever since I lost my job last Christmas, I have had a strong sense that God has something very specific for my "next big step" — the next job in my career. And I felt that when the time was right, He would reveal that to me. So for the past nine months I have been seeking God, and waiting for Him to speak to me about what the "next big step" is.
But as the months slipped by, I was becoming more and more frustrated with God. He seemed strangely silent. Sometimes I felt like He was playing games with me. I would tell Him: "God, you know I need a job. Just tell me what you want me to do, and I'll go do it! Why won't you speak to me and show me what it is you want me to do? How much longer do I have to wait?"
Sometimes when we have a hard time hearing from God, we feel as if we must be somewhat spiritually deaf. If only we could get ourselves a huge spiritual hearing aid, point it up to the heavens, and tune in to God, then we might be able to hear God better!
The Jews in the Old Testament felt the same way. But what did Moses say to them?
This command I am giving you today is not too difficult for you to understand, and it is not beyond your reach. It is not kept in heaven, so distant that you must ask, "Who will go up to heaven and bring it down so we can hear it and obey?" It is not kept beyond the sea, so far away that you must ask, "Who will cross the sea to bring it to us so we can hear it and obey?" No, the message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart so that you can obey it. (Deuteronomy 30:11-14)It wasn't until I read the book So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore — less than two weeks ago — that the light bulb went off in my head. Suddenly it became very clear that I HAD been hearing God speak to me, but because of my preconceived ideas of what He would say to me, and because of the smallness of my faith, I was not really LISTENING to what He had been telling me all along! It was one of those "ah-ha" moments, and I realized how dense I had been.
All these months I have been feeling frustrated with God because I felt that He was not speaking to me, only to find out that He HAD been speaking to me! Perhaps God felt the same frustration with me, because all these months He HAD been speaking to me, but I had not been LISTENING! Oy vey! This is just what it says in the book of Job: "For God does speak — now one way, now another — though man may not perceive it." (Job 33:14). It's a good thing God is infinitely more patient than I am!
The passage from Deuteronomy above says that the message from God "is on your lips and in your heart" — that is exactly what I experienced. For months and months I've been having certain impressions — strongly enough that I have been writing them in my journal and telling them to Catherine. But somehow I just couldn't believe that it was really God speaking to me. But He was! And His words were in my heart and on my lips before I even realized that they were His words!
So what exactly has God been telling me all these months, that I was not able to perceive until now? Here are the main points I have been sensing:
This new focus is both exciting and scary. In my natural self, I really like "systems" and "maps" — in other words, I have a deep need to know how life works and exactly where I'm going in life. But as I quoted in my last article, "Jesus didn't leave us with a system; he left us with his Spirit — a guide instead of a map." Like Peter, Yeshua is asking me to "step out of the boat" — the "system" and all of it's securities — and to walk with Him on the water (see Matthew 14:22-33). As I learn to know Him better and trust Him more, I hope to walk on the water more and more, and sink under the waves less and less.
When I was a child growing up in the Lutheran church, I remember hearing the Bible readings about Yeshua and His disciples. It all sounded so wonderful! I remember that I would often think, "Oh, how awesome it would have been to be with Jesus like that! If only I had been born back then and been one of the disciples. It's too bad that we can't be with Jesus like that today."
The good news is that we CAN know Him and be with Him in that way! We CAN walk with Yeshua daily, and go with Him where He leads. This way of life "outside the system" and "without a map" IS scary — but what an exciting, awesome privilege to journey together with Yeshua each day, and learn to walk on the water with Him!
In closing, I would like to repeat what I wrote in my last article, which states in a clear way where I'm at in my life:
In summary, what I sense the Father saying to me is that He wants me to pursue and follow Yeshua on a day-by-day journey, and not pursue a job or a career or ministry or money. I simply need to do the work that He puts before me each day, and leave all of those other details to Him. It does sound kind of scary, but it also sounds pretty exciting and liberating."The deepest longings of my heart" ... all the way back to the little boy sitting in a pew in a Lutheran church, deeply longing to walk with Jesus. May each of our deepest longings be brought to reality in Him!
So after nine months of waiting for God to tell me what His next big step for my life is — specifically, where I should be working to earn an income — I feel that I finally have my answer. I will discover the work He has for me while ON the journey. It's definitely NOT the answer I was looking for, but all in all I think it's a BETTER answer, and one that will fulfill the deepest longings of my heart.
This article is 4th a series of articles on this Web site related to My Journey with Yeshua (Jesus) which also includes (scroll to see the entire list):
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