If you have ever been part of a marriage conference or counseling…they teach you the art of active listening. Each has the others undivided attention as they converse back and forth…repeating back to the person what they heard and asking, “Is this what you meant?” There is much more listening done than speaking, and more unselfish attention given than self-centeredness. Listening to the Lord is a lot like that. It is not blabbering on incessantly about our own feelings and emotions…it’s listening with all our being…taking the time to be quiet…hearing and then heeding His voice.
The OT prophets had it pretty rough. They faced rebuke and persecution from all sides, especially when their message was the total opposite of what the people wanted to hear. So where did this boldness come from? How were these mild-mannered, many times even timid men able to stand before Kings and High Priests proclaiming God’s Word? It was the Holy Spirit within, enabling them to go boldly into battle for the Lord. Are you brave enough to pray the prayer the Apostles did in Acts 4:29? ” Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak Your Word with great boldness.” Boldness empowered by the Holy Spirit will change your perception. For you’ll no longer have your limited vision, but God’s.
The verse written here was the fulfillment of prophecy first spoken by the prophet Isaiah, “The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” (Isaiah 9:2) Jesus was the embodiment of light and truth, and His message still rings true today…”Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”
People have really good excuses why they don’t want anything to do with God. “Religion is only for the weak that need a crutch.” “I’ll get right with God when I get old and about to die…you know, like Fire Insurance…something you have just incase.” “I don’t believe any of that mumbo-jumbo Jesus garbage.” So when you’re confronted by this, what is the best answer? The Truth. You don’t need to defend God…He’s perfectly capable of defending Himself, thank you. You state the Truth in love, but neither do you water down the Truth to make it more palatable for all. The Truth is, if you forsake God, He’ll reject you…forever.
The words of desperation, grief, and discouragement are heavy…they weigh us down to the point we can hardly breathe. This oppressiveness is only compounded by impulsive, frantic actions as we search for answers. It doesn’t help either if we’re sleep deprived. Sometimes the very best thing you can pray for is peace and rest. When our minds and bodies are frenetic, balance and reason can go out the window. Asking the Lord for peace, hope, and sleep can bring us back into alignment.
So many times we foolishly think we can somehow “help God”. We look at the situation and feel we have more insight and intelligence than our Heavenly Father does over the matter…but our “help” usually just messes it up more. Relinquishing some thing or one to God doesn’t mean you’re giving up and walking away…it simply means you’re stepping aside and allowing God to work in ways you never would be able to. Surrendering and laying at the foot of the Cross a loved one can be the scariest thing you’ll ever do. But until you do this and fully give that person to God – you’re just in the way and the Lord can’t work. You may think you love that person immensely…but remember, God loves them even more.
I think as Believers, we all smugly think that if we had lived during Biblical times and had witnessed the miracles and teachings of Jesus…we would of immediately realized He was the Messiah. But would we? Humanity saw Him as just another man…indeed, a good man who taught with unheard of authority and passion, but still just a flesh and blood human like the rest of us. Would we have been able to recognize His divinity…when the incarnate Jesus Christ…the embodiment of God took on human form and lived among us? I would hope and pray so.