I truly am not special. Ask my wife.
Yet when I picked Hearing God as a book to study, I knew I was interested in this topic because I think it is good for Christians to seek direction from God about their lives…and
I feel God has spoken to me from time to time. But God can speak to anybody.
I truly am not special. I know it.
Dr. Willard talked about blind faith and I commented on it yesterday. His idea is that blind faith is not enough to satisfy the Christian. Living life based on faith alone is ignoring the direction that God can give us, direction that God gives us through listening to His messages.
But what is beyond blind faith?
Dr. Willard says “corporate sensing” is beyond blind faith. When Christians gather, they have a feeling about the presence of God and many share that God has moved in their lives. There is a belief based on inductive reasoning.
What this means is this. How many believers who have heard from God does it take for you to believe that He communicates to humans? Will five do it? How about twenty-five? How about one hundred and five?
Let’s add another.
When I was going through a particularly tough time in my life, I heard from God about what to do. I was in a panic. I was asking over and over “What do I do next?” This crisis hit before I went to work and I had to deal with the shock and then “do life” that day or not.
The “normal” side of me said “do not do life that day.” Take the day off and do what you can to make the biggest mess of the situation that you can. It is ok to hurt others. You are hurt.
The “abnormal” side of me said “do nothing, carry on and help your family.” What had happened was I was praying to God and I was needing an answer. That was abnormal for me. I thought I did not need God. I was Mr. Superguy, able to leap tall buildings and stop speeding trains.
God said “no you are not.” That message is clear to me now but that morning all the word I got was “do nothing, carry on and help your family.”
Now I see that the word I got was the correct one. It was the first word that led me to Christ. That morning in crisis I found the Lord as I mouthed the words of a desperate prayer over and over.
Dr. Willard also says that effects prove that God speaks to people.
I am not going to be so arrogant to tell of the effect God had on me these past eighteen years.
I just know that He changed my life. The first effect was a hunger for the Word. I had never felt that before and may never feel it again. For the first time in my life, I could not get enough of the Bible, especially the New Testament.
Every day I began to pore over the words in the New Testament, looking for advice about what to do.
I felt I had been living a misguided life up to that point and I wanted to know what to do.
I met with about ten pastors the other day as part of a Methodist District-wide committee to evaluate how effectively they were pastoring their churches and how well they were conducting their personal and spiritual lives.
I encountered a man I had not seen in about eighteen years. He went on the Emmaus Walk with me and I remember him distinctly. He was “on fire for the Lord” on the Walk and I was so impressed with his energy.
When he visited with the committee, he talked about the Lord in his life, how God had told him to preach, how God had told him where to preach, how God had given him the words to preach over and over again.
His dependence on God and his receiving of God’s word has reaped a bounteous harvest. The churches where he is serving have grown from small to average size. They were averaging ten to twelve in attendance and now they are averaging 156 in one church and 220 in the other. One church is considering a building program because the pews are full.
Is it him?
No, it is God.
He says “It is God working through me.” He is the right man in the right place, doing God’s work. He gives God the credit.
This is what Dr. Willard calls the effects of God’s word on people.
Whether it is David Carter feeling an unquenchable thirst for God’s Word or this pastor’s ability to “grow a church,” the effect is there.
God moved into the lives of people and changed them.
Blind faith is ok and we should not denigrate it, but there is more out there. You see it when Christians gather and sense God’s presence and you see it when someone has a change of life and they do more than they ever imagined they could do. God is the cause; Christian action in this world is the effect.
I heard a pastor in the meeting I attended say something that I really liked and I hold his words to be true. He said God is always moving the finish line. When you think you are done, He says “no you are not.” “He always wants more.”
Be ready, he wants more from you, a lot more than blind faith.