“God spoke to me.”
“The Holy Spirit put it on my heart.”
“God revealed this idea to me.”
If you have ever been around Christians, you may have heard expressions like these. They refer to “hearing” from God.
At my church, I had a venerable woman come to me one day and she informed me that a decision she had made was the direct result of God giving her a message. Another person told me that she had picked her successor in a Sunday School classroom based on God “putting that person’s name on her heart.”
What do you think when you hear Christians say such things?
Do you believe these messages are real?
Do you think the person who says this is crazy?
Are they trying to manipulate things using a Divine reference?
Are you a cynical person, casting doubt on what they are saying?
Dallas Willard deals with these issues and many more in his book Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God.
How many times have you had to make a decision and you wanted some direction? What if we could telephone God and say “God, what would you do?” Would that not be cool? Then we could move forward with certainty.
Or would we?
What if God told us something we did not want to hear? What if he asked us to sacrifice? What is we had to give up something that is dear to us? What if we had to make a change that we know is going to make us very uncomfortable?
But it is God…
Don’t we have to obey?
Maybe asking for God’s advice is easy. Maybe even hearing the advice is easy.
It is that doing part that is hard.
And then there are those indecisive people, even if God sends them a decision.
You know what I mean. Some people never make a decision without second-guessing it. My mother had Dad’s pick-up truck in her possession when Dad died. She needed a car but I had serious doubts that she needed a pick-up truck. She asked my advice and I told her I would sell it. It cost extra money to insure it. It was not being used and as it sat in the garage, it was going to deteriorate.
It took her a long time to sell it but eventually she did.
Five years later, at least 10 times a year, she brings up the feeling that she should not have sold the truck.
She is second guessing, third guessing, fourth guessing etc. her decision.
We worry about the consequences of our decisions and of course, there will be some. There always are. Some of us may have paid heavy prices for bad decisions we have made in the past. That makes us very leery of making any decision today.
Many young people seem to worry little about their decisions. They have the “if it feels good, it must be right” attitude.
As we get older, maybe we have made a few bad decisions based on “if it feels good” and we are more hesitant to rely only on feelings.
But decisions have to be made nevertheless.
Have you ever been to the grocery store with an indecisive person? They stand in the canned vegetable aisle and ponder the wondrous selection of green peas available. They read labels, they look at the prices, they look at the brands etc. and eventually they pick a can of green peas. It takes forever.
Would it be good to pray in the aisle and ask God to help us pick out the peas?
I guess so.
It would be convenient.
It would save time.
It would keep us from thinking so much and having so much anxiety.
But do we want to bother God with such triviality?
Dr. Willard says in his preface that we have been created to receive messages from God, yes maybe even messages about pick-up trucks and cans of peas. Who is to say that the truck or the can of peas is not important in God’s scheme? None of us knows.
Yet we insist that only the most serious messages come from God…you know those messages about who to marry or whether to take the job or not.
Dr. Willard says that the message will not matter if it is not truly God’s will that we do it. “Hearing God makes sense only in the framework of living in the will of God.”
Ok folks, we will not only be discussing the Holy Spirit and how God’s messages come to us via our “Helper” but we also will be discussing God’s will.
Won’t it be nice to know God’s will for our lives?
But again, what if His will is not what we want?
It is reassuring to read our author’s words as he ends the preface: “My hope is to leave you with a clear sense of how to live confidently in a personal walk that is complemented by an ongoing conversational relationship with God.”
Think about it.
Don’t you want that?
There are lots of choices in that grocery story…lots of green peas.