All your children will be taught by the Lord,
and great will be their peace.
- Isaiah 54:13
It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life.
- John 6:45-48
“’I’, saith the Lord, taught the prophets from the beginning, and even now cease I not to speak unto all; but many are deaf and hardened against my voice; many love to listen to the world rather than to God, they follow after the desires of the flesh more readily than after the good pleasure of God.”
- Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ
This is not a post about me admitting that I’m hard of hearing. It is just that everyone speaks so softly! There are sadistic really, whispering when I’m only a few feet away…
All kidding aside, God speaks very softly. There are two reasons for that, at least two. He talks to everyone, but He talks most to those who eagerly listen. In other words, God desires us to desire Him. And, second, this world is a noisy place, with a schedule that doesn’t seem to match with that timing of God’s. Thomas à Kempis used portions of these reasons. He gives an excuse that we are hard of hearing, but then says that we would rather listen to this world. Is that it? Are we hard of hearing? Do we prefer the world’s voice to that of God?
Although I desired God throughout my working life, I really had no idea that God was talking to me. There was always a clock that was ticking. I had to have my answer by tomorrow at noon, no, make that this afternoon before I left the office. It was as if the office thought I would die before morning, and I think some bosses wished for that to happen. Possibly for them a short, fleeting thought, because they hated going through the hiring process. At least they did when I had enough billable work for three people. When they did not hire any help, I just worked harder and longer hours, giving them a better profit margin – no incentive to hire anyone.
The most ridiculous timetable that I ever had was when I received a job offer when I was a few days shy of 59 years old, lucky to get any kind of offer at that age. The offer was for a severe pay cut, and I would have to move myself and my wife, at my expense, to Houston, TX. I received the offer by e-mail a few hours after my mother passed away. I called them and said that I had a death in the family, and I would need time to consider the offer, but I either needed help with the physical move or a boost in the salary offer or I would turn it down. I communicated by e-mail from a fastfood restaurant on my way to my mother’s funeral. I then continued on a two-day trip to Mississippi for the funeral. I was with my sister for three days, my brother and father having passed away a couple of months before. Three deaths in four months. My brother-in-law was the executor, and he read the will. I then took two days to return to Pennsylvania. I had not yet begun to think about the offer when my cellphone rang. They offered to pay a few thousand dollars, less than a third of the moving costs. Then they added that they had waited long enough, and they demanded my immediate answer. I told them that I thanked them for being so considerate of someone who had just had three deaths in the family. It made my decision very easy. I wished them luck on trying to find someone half as good at the work they wanted, and then I hung up on them.
They did not cross one line. They crossed several. Considering that the business was in some of the worst flooded areas of Houston during Hurricane Harvey, I am glad that I was not there to lose everything that I owned. When the hiring officer had called and demanded an immediate answer, God’s voice was nearly shouting, “You’ve heard this before, and what happened that time?”
But other times, it is more subtle, both the world’s temptation and God’s guidance.
For me to hear God, it required a lot of time in prayer and Bible study. Then I needed time to wait for God to speak. Really, I was learning how to listen. That required patience, something of which I am in short supply. And then, since God was telling me to get outside my comfort zone, I preferred to argue. But God was persistent,
He wants to talk to you. Study the Bible. Pray. And as A. W. Tozer wrote, “Pray until you Pray.” When you run out of things to say, you might just get a thought or even a voice. God speaks in many ways.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.