We sometimes look for a formula, a means of assurance, some notion that we are doing things right.
I hate to write this, but it is true.
We are about to enter a season of the year, a season that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. That should be the focus of our attention.
Sadly sometimes it is not.
One of the many distractions that take away our focus is the desire to start the New Year with a healthier body. Get ready, the television will be flooded with ads for weight-loss products, gym offers and countless miracle exercise machines that “guarantee” results. You will look like the buff young man or the fitness model if you can just commit 20 minutes per day. We look for a secret formula.
Dr. Willard states that there are even formulas for hearing the voice of God too. Wouldn’t you know it?
One of these is called the “Three Lights”.
The formula works like this. We are not supposed to believe that we have a true communication from God until three things line up together: the circumstances of our life, our impression of the Holy Spirit and passages of support from the Bible.
Some may see this as a formula that assures that God is speaking to us and that is a good thing.
Others may think it is just confusing.
Let me get personal. I hope that is ok.
I believe God’s voice helps me to discern when I am supposed to act. Many of my actions are small and to many people, very inconsequential. However the voice or the “feeling” is there and I act on it without consulting Scripture or questioning my Holy Spirit.
This past week I had a visit from my son and all the while he was here, I kept looking for God to direct me about what to do to enjoy his visit. He lives in Chicago and I don’t see him much and he is not going to be at our home for Christmas. He is going to his in-law’s home in a foreign country.
I prayed about his visit, asking God to help me enjoy all the moments I had with him, asking God to help me adjust my schedule in a way that I could make him feel welcome and loved. I even asked God to help me prepare food that would please him and give him and my wife opportunities to enjoy time together without the stress of cooking.
It was the best time I have ever had with my son.
God seemed to help me to act in accordance with my prayers.
Did I consult Scripture? I didn’t. Did I question my Holy Spirit about the authenticity of God’s voice? I didn’t. Were there circumstances that allowed me to act on the situation that was before me? There were, and I did act on those circumstances.
I give you this critique of the “Three Lights” to say that I can’t imagine a person waiting until three things in life “line up together”. That can cause us to be frozen when we need to act. That can cause us to be indecisive while we wait for the perfect moment.
What about the young person who is waiting for the “Three Lights” to line up about taking a job?
What about the man or woman who is waiting for the “Three Lights” to line up about starting school?
What about the person who is waiting for confirmation about the person they are going to marry?
Is there a possibility that opportunities will pass a person by? Yes, I am afraid so.
In my experience, I can feel God’s presence in some of the things I do. When I have that feeling, I think I need to act and then watch the flow. If it is there, I will continue to feel like things are working out right. I sense that I am doing the right thing. I don’t have to have a formula to tell me when to act (or slow me down).
Dr. Willard states “when God speaks and we recognize the voice as His voice, we do so because our familiarity with that voice enables us to recognize it. We do not recognize it because we are good at playing a guessing game about how the occasions through which His direction comes do or do not match up with each other.”
If Dr. Willard is going to reveal to us how to recognize the voice of God in Chapter 8, it will not be through a formula.
Maybe we need assurance, maybe we need a quick fix, but maybe God prefers action based on faith.