God does come to us but not always how we expect
God being God has His own preferred ways of making Himself known, not restricted by human expectation or tradition – we need to engage regularly with Him to become more familiar with what is biblical and likely
about me and us don’t we just wish that God hadn’t lost HIs microphone and His great stack of speakers with which to get our attention and get His message across to us. Or at least He seems to have retired the angels that we feel He used a lot to bring a message to people He wanted to correct or lead. We already have an idea of how we expect God to speak to us and it’s not always how He does things.
So what indication does God give us through the Bible about how He will speak to us?
about God Elijah’s on the run – looking for somewhere to hide – but God confronts him, calls for him to talk, with a question: Is this what I intend for you? Not as a criticism, rather as way for Elijah to get his concerns out in the open for dialogue.
Don’t you think Elijah sounds depressed? Great achievement against the odds, followed by a crash. He put it like it was for him. Which is not a bad way to start a conversation with God.
Then God calls for Elijah to expect an encounter and to get ready for it. How often do we hear a call to prayer as a call to be ready for God to interact with us? What follows represents a parade of Elijah’s conceptions of how God might act (or how he would act if he was God). But finally God comes as wind, breath, spirit; a Presence shaped to Elijah’s need consistent with the true character of God.
With this breath-like Presence God’s invitation to talk is accepted. Now Elijah is ready to hear, to be encouraged. [Notice that God allows for Him to pour out His pain again.]
The message is that he’s not on his own, there are a company of unseen supporters, still faithful to God
In this story there is a sense that God isn’t bound by the limits of our expectations, but is inclined to work according to His character and His more accurate awareness of our greatest need in that moment. He knows too that we could not handle or relate to the kind of God we carry in our imaginations. Our vision of God very much determines how we try to relate to Him. So that too scary a vision of God, e.g.the furious and shining Judge, or Conquering Warrior, can cause us to stand at arms length – either avoiding too much contact or being very formal, feeling disappointed. Seeing God as a domineering Boss or abusive Parent-figure can lead to fearful attempts to live very carefully circumscribed lives. SO we are likely to be surprised by God in the ways He appears to us – esp as the Lover of our souls or the One who is subtly but persistently present, the One who comes as a Whisper, or a Breeze offering rest, peace, hope, healing and encouragement.
about you So we need to adjust our view of God in relationship and our level of expectation that He will come and speak with us. But let me say three things about that:
We need to listen for the voice that is true to God’s way of making Himself known. Can involve a long verbal conversation, or time writing in a Journal what we’re thinking and believe we’re hearing.
We need to carry with us a readiness to do what we hear – even if it isn’t what we were expecting, because this is God who is reaching out to us.
We also need to realise both the Presence that is God never giving up on us, but also that even in the Church we’re never on our own. There are always others praying with and for us. So we should never give up or become despairing.
and about our church: imagine a church in which people expect to hear from God and both as individuals and as a community have got used to listening for His directing and encouraging voice as they plan and move through the mission to which they believe He has called them.
for your thinking
How do you expect God to speak to you? If you’re really honest – if you stopped to think about how He might go about getting a message to you? Which way would you prefer Him to tell you what to do – how explicit should He be?
What do you need Divine direction for? What kinds of things should not be undertaken until we’re very sure of what God wants to do?
What kinds of stresses would cause you to reach out to God in prayer? How seriously would you go about that?
About what kind of issues should we as a Church be hammering on God’s door? How long should we do that for?