Lately, I’ve been reading the biography of Amy Carmichael (one of my heroes) to Ethan for a school assignment. I love reading this to him because it gives him godly heroes to imitate–those that counted the cost and saw how infinitely more satisfying a life lived in surrender to God is. And Amy accomplished amazing and wonderful things such as building an orphanage in India rescuing hundreds of children from temple prostitution and death (see my other page for books about her). But what struck me the most was how clearly she heard from God. Several times I read that she would be in prayer and God would tell her something specific like go to this place, return home, build this, this many people will get saved, etc and it would happen exactly as He shared it to her. My children and I talked about how amazing that was and how we wanted that same kind of relationship with God. Because, the truth is, she had this kind of dialogue with God not because God loved Amy Carmichael more than anyone else in the world, it was because she believed He would speak to her and she waited with hopeful expectation for it.
I once heard this story about this minister who was about to get on a plane. It turned out the plane was overbooked and the flight attendants kept offering incentives for people to opt out of the flight. Several times he heard it and ignored it because he was anxious to go home and see his family even though he felt God was telling him to take the deal. Finally, they offered one more time and he felt compelled to listen and he gave up his spot on the plane. This plane then crashed and every person on the plane died. The news reporters, knowing he was a minister, asked him why God told him to get off the plane and no one else. Did God only love him because he was a minister? His humble response was, “It wasn’t that God didn’t want anyone else’s life to be spared. It was because I was the only one listening.” Now this story could possibly be completely untrue (I didn’t really verify it or anything), but the message is powerful and, I believe, true. God is trying to communicate with each and every one of us every day–only a few of us are listening.
So how do we listen? I believe it’s a learned skill. I believe it starts with a quiet heart, with a certainty that God is real and willing to communicate, and then it takes time. God refuses to be molded into our ideas of how things should work. Absolute humility is essential to learning how to tune in to the most complicated, beautiful, amazing, unfathomable person in the universe. We must adapt to a new and powerful way of thinking that makes absolutely no sense to us most of the time. But the rewards to being in tune with Him are measureless–peace, purpose, joy, and hope to name a few.
Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” I bolded the important concepts here. You must really, honestly believe that God is real and able and willing to communicate with you. It takes faith (which means you take an action on it and not necessarily that you feel it). You also have to believe that your efforts to get to know Him are not meaningless or unnoticed. God is delighted in your attempts to know Him. Not sure about this, take a look at these Scriptures–Jeremiah 9:23-24 (my favorite), 2 Peter 3:18, 2 Corinthians 2:14, 2 Peter 1:3. Knowledge of Him (intimate, communion-like knowledge) is something He gives to you. In Jeremiah 9:24, it says He actually delights in you knowing Him.
So, if this is something you desire and He desires, what can possibly stop it?? I won’t go in to the many meaningless things we allow to affect this, but instead I want us to focus on the fact that we don’t need to feel like we are forcing this. We aren’t asking for something impossible or unnatural. If you have ever felt like there had to be something more to your relationship with God, then this is probably what was missing. A real relationship with a living God. And it’s yours for the asking.