That’s what I’m trying to master
I’d like to say that I have mastered the art of listening to God and acting on what He shows me, but that would be a lie.
Recently on vacation, I had removed my toiletries from my suitcase and placed some in the shower, some on the counter near the sink, and many small items in a drawer by the sink. (“A place for everything and everything in its place” — even on vacation.)
Toward the end of our trip, as I opened that drawer to use whichever item I needed, I would get a “check in my spirit,” a warning message in my brain: “You’re going to forget these — out of sight, out of mind! You should move them somewhere visible.”
And then I would close the drawer, all of my items still inside it. “I’ll make doubly sure I remember,” I told myself, certain I would remember because I’d had that warning to reinforce my memory. Plus how could I forget so many items?
The day we were to leave, I started packing at 5 a.m. As I methodically packed the kitchen, Steve went in search of carts to carry our belongings. (It would take two carts, three trips each, to extricate ourselves from the condo. We pack like the Beverly Hillbillies.)
He discovered that the elevator near our unit wasn’t working — and that changed everything. We — and everyone else — would need to use the only remaining elevator in the complex. The elevator would be in high demand. Suddenly, I had to hurry. So I rushed through my packing, and, yes, my “out of sight, out of mind” belongings remained in the drawer.
It wasn’t until I was unpacking eight hours later that I realized what I’d left behind. Nothing irreplaceable, but it would be costly to replace. (Or at least $20 to ship. I contacted the rental agency after seeing that the unit wasn’t rented after us and was able to get my belongings sent to me the next week.)
As I journaled the morning after our return, God brought to mind those little checks in my spirit that I had ignored. (Certainly, I hadn’t acted on them.)
“Pay attention to them and act accordingly,” I heard Him say to me. “I am training you to listen and act so that I can co-create with you as we write.”
I’m trying to pay attention to those little warnings as I walk through my days. They remind me of the “gentle whisper” Elijah heard God use in 1 Kings 19. Do you get those too? I do have obsessive-compulsive thoughts — like when I’m five minutes away from work and suddenly can’t remember if I locked my office door or not — but these distinct “you better do this” thoughts seem to come from outside of me.
Is that you, Lord?
I’m taking those little whispers seriously. I’m also trying to act on the advice I hear loud and clear in conversations, podcasts, sermons, and songs. But mostly, I am reading God’s Word carefully and reflectively and spending time journaling. I write my thoughts, my prayers, and I take the time to ask God what He wants to say to me.
And then I write it down in a letter to me from God: “Dear Sara…” (Sometimes it’s “Dearest Sara” or “My dear daughter.”)
I want to hear from God more than I want to write for Him. (And I want that a lot.)
God wants me to consult Him for direction — and He wants to direct my choices. In Isaiah, He calls the Israelites “obstinate children“ because they “carry out plans that are not mine” and act “without consulting me” (Isaiah 30:1-2, NIV). The chapter includes a back and forth with a rebellious people who try their own way first and a God who is gracious anyway. Despite their failings, God wanted to lead the Israelites anyway.
How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”Isaiah 30:19b, 21, NIV
Those little “checks in my spirit,” even relatively silly ones such as “get your stuff out the drawer or you’ll forget to pack them,” seem much like a voice behind me, directing me to the way God wants me to go. If He is using those little commands to train me to listen and act so that we can co-create, I am going to do my best to listen to even His quietest whisper.
I can’t imagine a better honor than laying my gifts before Him and inviting Him to use me. I want to write what He wants me to write to reach who He wants me to reach. I want to hear from God and live as He wants me to live to accomplish His purpose day by day.
But I do know this: Whatever I hear Him tell me to do, I need to trust and obey — and leave the results to Him. Just do what I hear Him tell me to do — whisper or otherwise — and trust that He will use it.
Without worrying about the results. I need to listen, then trust and obey and leave the results to God.
I do marketing for a living, and part of my role is adding people’s bios to the directories on our website. One of our mentors had written in his bio that he was “in the results business.” (Brilliant, right? Don’t we all want to get advice from someone who always gets results?)
But as I was praying the other day, his verbiage — “I’m in the results business” — came to mind, quickly followed by God’s interjection, which I jotted in my journal:
“Impossible! I AM in the results business!” Then He continued:
“You are in the obedience business. Mind your own business!”
(God’s got a great sense of humor, but He speaks truth.)
I don’t have to worry about the results. That’s not my business. Obedience is my business. My job is to listen for His leading, then trust and obey. And then I need to trust again by leaving the results to God.
Listen, trust and obey. Then trust the results to God.
Because that’s His business.
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