God recently gave me an epiphany recently through a parenting analogy that I wanted to share here.
Have you ever told your kids to do something?
If you’re not a parent, try to remember a time when your parents told you to do something while you were engaged in something else…or your wife/husband for that matter.
Well if you’re a parent of a child old enough to be given an instruction, you certainly have. Picture this:
Dad: “Hey Suzie, I need you to help me with a few things. First, can you pick up your toys in the family room and then I need you to go up to your room and put them away. Last, make your bed and straighten up your room.”
[Dad looks over and Suzie isn't even looking at him]
Now dad may not realize it, but he’s not even gotten her attention at this point. Let alone communicated effectively for her to be able to take action. Even if she had been listening, she would have forgotten step 1 by the time he was halfway through step 2. So dad takes a new approach.
Dad: “Suzie, look at me”
Dad: “I need you to pick up your toys.”
Suzie: “Ok dad”
Now what just happened here may not seem significant until you want guidance from your heavenly father. Did you see what the father in our example above did? He got the girls attention, gave her one simple command and waited for her to comply before giving her the next step. Let me explain.
Focus On the Next Step
I’ve become convinced that we often ask God to lay out the entire plan of something and He in His infinite wisdom knows we either can’t comprehend or take it all in and so I believe He revealed to me in my life a simple strategy for difficult times when we are crying out for the full answer or full plan and He doesn’t seem to be complying. I believe sometimes He just wants us to focus on the next step. Here’s what He told me to do recently:
- Look at me.
So the first step for us to follow God is to pay attention to Him; to look at Him in our analogy above. He wants our undivided attention and won’t clamor above the noise of our life to get it. So how do you do this? Read the word. Write it on the tablet of your heart and meditate on it. Internalize it, memorize it and in essence, make it a part of your core. This is one of the most beautiful things about our Father; He wont force you into seeking after Him, but oh boy, when you do, He starts to work in your life, to refine you in the refiners fire and burn off those impurities and then that sets you up perfectly for step 2…
Paying attention to God does you no good if you don’t listen to what He’s telling you. To listen here I mean to hear whatever He has to say to you. There are several ways you can do this such as meditating on His word, prayer and then times of silence to wait on Him to respond and sometimes even reading the word of God itself can be listening. But the key is to not be making your own noise but to be waiting on God…listening for whatever method He may choose to communicate with you. Oh, and one more thing on this one…listen with an open mind and heart. Ask God to specifically show you the next step for you to take in any given situation…believe me He will.
So you’d think the third part would be the easiest…but not so much. I’ve often thought that I would have a hard time NOT obeying God if I knew clearly He had spoke and understood what I was to do. To see God’s will brought to fruition in our lives we have to comply with His every request. We have to be obedient and take the next step whenever and however He asks us to do so. See here’s the problem. We have to die to this thing called flesh every single day. And if that weren’t enough, its our job to cue into Him by looking and listening. Trust me, God hasn’t gone silent even when you may think He has. He’s there waiting for us to seek harder, press in more, and show up. So knowing His will and understanding His instructions seems to fall on our shoulders. Then the hard part…at least sometimes; obeying Him…no matter the cost.
Let me illustrate this way.
“Dance with all your might as you worship me like David did”
But…but…me God? Really? You want me to…do what…dance for you?
“Yes dance” He says.
It’s in that moment you must decide; obey and possibly look foolish or disobey and miss out on His best (the good part as He told Martha and Mary) for you. And not just for you…what we may think someone else will look at and view as foolish, may be looked at as inspiring and courageous and cause someone to be moved themselves.
Be Foolish & Get It Over With!
Oh and on the topic of being “foolish”, let me just say this. If you’re afraid of looking foolish, then you ought to just look foolish and get it over with. While reading a WONDERFUL book entitled Worship, by Joseph Garlington recently, he said we should consider this:
- Noah must have looked pretty foolish building a massive arc to float on a worldwide flood and save humanity
- Abraham had to look pretty foolish standing over his son Isac, knife in hand
- Moses probably looked foolish sitting on a hilltop flanked by 2 guys holding up his arms while thousands fought to their death below
- Hannah apparently looked foolish and drunk to Eli as she prayed fervently in the House of God
- David looked very foolish standing in front of Goliath armed with a sling and 5 smooth stones
- Mary definitely looked foolish when she became pregnant out of wedlock and
- Joseph looked even more foolish when he agreed to marry her anyway
- Jesus, when as a carpenters son, stood in the synagogue read a familiar passage from the scroll of Isaiah and said “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” looked foolish
- Satan thought Jesus looked even more foolish the day he was stretched out on a roman cross between 2 crucified thieves after claiming to be the Son of God…but he wasn’t foolish…He was doing the will of His Father!
In fact, all of them “appeared” foolish, but weren’t. They were doing the will of their Father…and in doing so confounding the wise.
So I hope as you face whatever God has you facing right now, that the lesson He gave me might help you in your walk. And even more than that, I hope that if faced with the choice of looking foolish for God or wise for the world, you’d choose foolishness every time and praise God that He gave you the opportunity to stand for Him! Focus in on God, ask for and listen for that next step in your life or situation and then be obedient and comply with His request.
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Filed Under: Hearing God