Pete and I love road trips. When we fly, we miss everything between our home and our destination, but with a road trip we can turn off at every interesting sign. (I particularly like brown signs, as they usually imply some sort of natural feature or wildlife refuge.)
Ten years ago, during a particularly stressful time in our lives, Pete gave me the gift of a month-long road trip, all by myself. I had the luxury of wandering wherever God led, while he took care of everything at home. (Yet another reason I adore my husband!)
This is the conclusion of part 1 that I posted last week.
Now that I’ve laid out my case for God’s desiring a two-way conversation with us, rather than a monologue, it’s time for some hard questions. How do we go about achieving this ideal? How can we listen to God? How do we know it’s Him speaking?
God is the initiator of the relationship we have with Him. Immediately after Adam and Eve sinned, and hid from God, He came looking for them. Genesis 3, verse 9 is the beginning of a long dialog among Adam, Eve, and God: “But the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’” Even though Adam and Eve had sinned, God still wanted their company—and God still pursues us today.
I’m grateful that God wants to talk to me so much that He’ll go to great lengths to do so. Think how foolish Balaam must have felt, when God had to speak to him through his donkey! I certainly don’t want to take after Balaam. Since Jesus died to restore my relationship with God, I want to make it easy for Him! I want to open my ears and eagerly join the conversation.
Recently, I spent an entire day in prayer. A very close friend was having serious surgery, and I felt compelled to wait before God on her behalf. Not so many years ago, I would have been unable to maintain an attitude of prayer for anywhere close to an hour, much less a day. While I would have had the same good intentions, I just couldn’t think of that much to say to God. Then I realized that prayer is a two-way conversation.
A few days later, I was discussing this with another friend:
Friend: I hate repeating myself in prayer. That’s why I don’t do as much of it as others. One reason, at any rate. I either find myself quickly addressing all the things on my heart and then ending the call, so to speak, or I keep digging and stretching and reaching for little things and obscure people to bring up, just to meet some bizarre prayer length quota.
Me: Try listening instead of talking; it’s very hard to have a one-way conversation with anyone.
Friend: I already feel like I’m talking to the ceiling. There’s never been much to hear. Sorry, but revelation is not for me.
Me: Sorry, I refuse to believe that. But listening is a learned skill, and you might need practice.
Does God, who must be awfully busy running the universe, actually talk to us? All of us? Or was this person right in assuming they just weren’t special enough to hear from God?