Are you willing to bet your life that the real world is not real? The visible, physical world is not the world that really counts.
As we get to the last post on Hearing God, these big thoughts are the ones that really count for all of us.
The biggest barrier to hearing God in our lives is the fact that many in our world just like the physical world more than the spiritual world. We want to be able to explain life totally. We don’t want to leave things to God.
In fact, the forces against spirituality are even greater than this. It is not stylish to be spiritual. Spiritual people are seen as stupid. Skeptical people are the smart ones. To have doubts, to poke holes in another’s faith, to come up with alternate explanations…that’s the cool thing to do.
This is a dilemma: God is not visible. My Holy Spirit is not visible. Jesus said “no one has seen the Father” and yet we are to believe.
This whole book has been about us patiently waiting for a message from God and yet many in our culture feel like the physical world is the dominant world.
And yes, many in church today feel the same way.
Why would God want to speak to us if we don’t place a value on our spiritual life?
If you read the Bible, study the Bible, it is evident throughout that God wants to be present with us but do we want to have a spiritual life so we can be with Him?
What is required?
A rock solid belief in the power of regular personal prayer.
A rock solid commitment to the study of God’s word.
A rock solid commitment to seek out the fellowship of other believers.
A rock solid desire to be of service to the people of this world in order to bring glory to the Lord [not yourself].
A rock solid goal of working to be as Christ-like as you can be.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. Don’t get Dr. Willard wrong. He is calling on Christians to be “individualists”, maybe even “social rebels.”
If you truly want to hear from God on a regular basis and truly want Him to direct your life, you will have to be different. You will have to take stands that are unpopular. You will have to act in situations where many others are going in the opposite direction.
At times you will be lonely.
As I write my last post on Hearing God I am awed that Dr. Willard closes his book on a reference to the two men walking to Emmaus after the death of Jesus. These two students of Jesus tell a man who appears about the horrible death of Jesus of Nazareth, not knowing that they were telling their story to Jesus.
Then their eyes were opened and they realized the man who was with them was Jesus.
My walk with God began 19 years ago when I found Jesus on the Emmaus Walk, a four day spiritual journey I took at a key time in my life. I found a new hope in my life, a new force that was there to guide, a Savior who loved me, forgave me and sent me down the road to a better way of life.
I saw that the physical, visible world was not the way to explain all of life. I saw God at work in my life and in the lives of others.
I left my Emmaus Walk with a burning heart. The two students asked each other after Jesus left them: “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was talking on the road, while He was opening the Scriptures to us?” [Luke 24:32].
Dr. Willard states “Today, as God’s trusting apprentices in the kingdom of the heavens, we live on the Emmaus road, so to speak, with an intermittently burning heart. His word pours into our hearts, energizing and directing our lives in a way that cannot be accounted for in natural terms. The presence of the physical world is, then, if I will have it so, no longer a barrier between me and God. My visible surroundings become, instead, God’s gift to me, where I am privileged to see the rule of heaven realized through my friendship with Jesus.”
Let’s admit that the forces of the “real world” are powerful. Practical folk want to explain everything that happens in this world. It is not very popular to believe in a God that is not visible, rely on a Holy Spirit that you cannot prove really exists and follow a Messiah who has been gone from this earth for a long time, yet He still lives.
But that’s what spiritual people do.
You know, those people who hear from God.
“They draw their life from a conversational relationship with God. They do not live their lives merely in terms of the human order in the visible world; they have a life ‘beyond’” [Willard, 222]