“Do not be like a horse or mule, without understanding, whose temper must be curbed with bit or bridle.” [Psalm 32:9]
Dr. Willard uses this Psalm to get us thinking about our role in the process of receiving a word from God.
We have talked about blind faith, we have talked about corporate sensing of the presence of God, and we have talked about Divine effects of God’s word, the miraculous effect of His word on peoples’ actions.
But what if there is more?
I know that many Christians are content with what they have, saying that God has provided all that they need. I understand that. At times I feel like my blessings are extremely bountiful. Some Christian people believe that suffering is what we have to do on this earth and death and eternal life are our only true reward.
But look closely at these words quoted from the book by Brother Lawrence [my editing] “An actual presence of God; or, to speak better, an habitual, silent or secret conversation of the soul with God, which often cause me joys and raptures inwardly, and sometimes also outwardly, so great that I am forced to use means to moderate them and prevent their appearance to others.”
What is he talking about here?
Pure joy. The knowledge that he is on his right path toward God, the Father.
He is talking about more.
Here on earth, while we are alive.
Dr. Willard says that God can speak to us in a conversational relationship, “individually as it is appropriate—which is only to be expected between persons who know one another, care about each other and are engaged in common enterprises.”
Anyone reading this, this is personal develpment. This is God giving you what you need to make you what He intends you to be.
How can this be?
It can be because we are humans with minds. Genesis 1:26: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
In short, God is not guiding some robot when he communicates to you and me. He is guiding a person who has a will.
We have the ability to choose and we should never forget that. This ability sets us apart from other organisms on earth.
We are unique, we have our own understanding, we have our own deliberation and we make our own decisions.
We can govern our own lives.
We can also experience more.
But here is the “catch.” We have to listen for a word from God and after we get it we have to obey.
Sounds simple but today it is not.
Listening is hard because it takes attending. We live in an ADHD world [my apologies to those who suffer]. There is too much going on. When I taught speech communication, I spent time trying to get students to grasp the need for attention-getters in speeches. Why does the audience need attention getters? Because they are straying far away from the speaker, paying attention to 5, 6 or 7 other things going on in the environment or in their mental world.
God needs to get our full attention. Too often He does not have it. We are ADHD sufferers trying to exist with too much information coming at us. I likened it to having 5, 6 or 7 television sets on in front of you with good programs on each set. You want to watch all seven programs but you can only watch one.
One set, the biggest set, the loudest set needs to be the God tv set. He is number one. The other sets might as well be background noise.
Hurdle number one is attending.
Hurdle number two is acting. If we attend to the Word, what are we going to do with it? Letting it set there is doing us no good. God wants us to make a move. God wants us to take action. God wants us to change.
That would be too hard.
Yet without action, the Word does you no good. 1 John 3:18 “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” James 2:17 “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
Let’s say this happens: God speaks and you act. You do what He has asked you to do.
What is next?
Joys and raptures…
Sound simple but it is not. I wish I could count the number of times when I felt that I should do something yet I did not do it. I wish I could count the days when I was too overwhelmed and did not take the time to think, to listen, to even put myself in a position to receive a word from God.
I must remember that [in the words of Dr. Willard] “We are led by—guided by—reasonable, intelligible communication, not by blind impulse, force or sensation alone.”
Pure joy. The knowledge that I am on my right path toward God, the Father.
That is where I want to go…