Do you ever hear God speaking to you? If so, how does He speak to you? There have been times in my life when I have severely needed my spiritual hearing checked. God could have spoken to me through a literal burning bush, and I probably would have rushed to get a bucket of water. But when I am listening to Him – and listening for Him – He speaks to me in remarkable ways. He usually speaks to me through what I am reading, or a sermon at church, or a song. But because He knows how oblivious I can be, He usually uses what I am reading AND a sermon at church AND a song. They will all hit – boom, boom, boom – and they will all be telling me the same thing. And then the Holy Spirit gives me an excitement and a peace regarding whatever call to action is clearly being put before me. Well, I think God just might be trying to tell me something this morning. See what you think…
I’m not making any of this up. I literally read these things this morning, as part of my time with God. And I didn’t intentionally read them. Well, I did… (“No! I won’t read! I WON’T! Oops. Didn’t mean to do that.”) But these just “happened” to be the chapters I got to today in two books I have been reading. I have been reading Praying God’s Will for Your Life by Stormie Omartian for, oh…I don’t know. Years, I guess. Because I always quit when it gets too tough. Too pointed. I always quit when I realize I’m not up for the challenge God is setting before me. I mean, I want God’s will for my life, but not at the expense of totally giving up my will for my life. Just being honest. Well, this time, I want it. I really want it. And yes, there are still things I want, but the difference now is I’m realizing I am never going to be able to get what I want if it isn’t what God wants, because really we want the same things. He just wants them better. (Did that make any sense? Probably not.)
So the chapter I read in Praying God’s Will for Your Life this morning was entitled “Praying to Say Yes to God Each Day of Your Life.” And from that chapter came this painful, hard-hitting, undeniably true little nugget:
The part we don’t want to hear is that a time comes when each of us must place our desires and dreams in the hands of God so that He might free us from those that are not His will. In other words, you secure your future by releasing your dream to God and, if need be, allowing it to die. If you’ve always had a certain picture of what you think you should do, you have to be willing to let the picture be destroyed. If it really is what God has for you, He will raise you up to do that and more. If it isn’t, you will be frustrated as long as you cling to it.
Ouch. But hey…that might not have really been intended for me. I’m also reading Bruce Wilkinson’s The Prayer of Jabez, a fascinating, polarizing little book which I am probably one of the last ten people on earth to read. I decided to read a chapter of that this morning, too. Because surely, in that book, God would tell me “Hey, you’re right on track. Don’t change a thing, kid! You’re gonna be a star. A star, I tell ya’!” (Why does God sound like a Hollywood talent agent in my mind? Does that give you some scary insight into my brain?) Well, hmm… Today I got to chapter three, “Living Large for God,” and in this chapter the author brought up the subject of Arithmetic. Well, first of all…WHAT?! (Side note: I have the dictionary.com Word of the Day widget on my phone, and today I learned something. Did you know there is “a printed punctuation mark, available only in some typefaces, designed to combine the question mark and the exclamation point, indicating a mixture of query and interjection, as after a rhetorical question,” called an interrobang? Fascinating.) Anyway…I hadn’t used or even thought of the word Arithmetic, well, maybe ever. And then the day after I decided to use it for The Year of Blogging Faithfully, it’s being discussed in The Prayer of Jabez, in the very chapter I just “happened” to be reading today?
Bruce Wilkinson wrote of expanding our territory for God’s work, and he said:
For most of us, our reluctance comes from getting our numbers right, but our arithmetic completely wrong. For example, when we’re deciding what size territory God has in mind for us, we keep an equation in our heart that adds up something like this:
My abilities + experience + training + my personality and appearance + my past + the expectations of others = my assigned territory.
No matter how many sermons we’ve heard about God’s power to work through us, we simply gloss over the meaning of that one little word through. Sure, we say we want God to work through us, but what we really mean is by or in association with. Yet God’s reminder to us is the same one He gave the Jews when they returned from captivity to a decimated homeland: “Not by might nor by power but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).
Our God specializes in working through normal people who believe in a supernormal God who will do His work through them. What He’s waiting for in the invitation. That means God’s math would look more like this:
My willingness and weakness + God’s will and supernatural power = my expanding territory.
Double ouch. But that’s okay, because that could really all just be an amazing coincidence. If only I hadn’t had my headphones on while I read. If only I hadn’t been listening to a playlist with more than 70 songs on it, and if only the one which “happened” to play hadn’t been “I’m Letting Go” by Francesca Battistelli.
I’m letting go
Of the life I planned for me
And my dreams.
Of my destiny.
Feels like I’m falling and that’s what it’s like to believe.
So I’m letting go.
This is a giant leap of faith,
Trusting and trying to embrace
The fear of the unknown,
Beyond my comfort zone.
Okay, God. I’m putting down my bucket of water now. Can’t wait to see what You have for me in the sermon at church tomorrow…