July 18, 2011

Summer Sabbath Devotional- Week 3

Eyes to See and Ears to Hear
July 18, 2011

At night when I turn out the lights, it is pitch black.
Completely dark.
I can’t even see my hand held right in front of my eyes.
In fact I can’t see anything at all!

But given a few minutes, my eyes adjust and I am able to see the shapes of things that are there. I can see the faint light from outside slipping through the blinds, I can see the closet and the chair, all the familiar things that were there a few minutes before, but things that in the sudden darkness I couldn’t see.

What happened? Did the world and the actual degree of darkness change?
No. I changed. My eyes adjusted and I was able to see what was there all along.

Likewise, there are sounds around me constantly. But in the noise of my daily life, my brain chooses what my ears hear at any given moment. Then at night, when all is still and quiet, I can clearly hear the whistle of the train or the rushing of BART on its tracks. Those sounds are there all day, but it’s not until late at night, when other sounds have dropped away and I am still that I’m able to hear them. The sounds are the same but the noise around me and in me has changed.

It makes sense to me that hearing God’s voice, or seeing and doing what the Father is up to, is very much the same. It’s not that God isn’t speaking or showing me or guiding me, it’s just that without regular stillness in my life, stillness in my inner being, it’s just too difficult to hear or see.

C.S. Lewis reportedly said this: "I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God- it changes me."

I love that. I pray because I can’t help myself. The needs of life and my weakness compel me to pray. I am helpless in the face of the looming needs and responsibilities of life. I don’t have the answer for many of my life’s biggest questions. I don’t know about you, but these words of C.S. Lewis could be my words.

And, think about it, how often in your life, has someone not normally drawn to prayer, maybe they don’t even know if they believe in prayer… but when suddenly faced with something desperately bigger than their ability to handle, ask you if you would pray for their need?

I pray because my need is so great and apart from God I can’t meet it.

But prayer is only half of the equation. It’s the Lord’s response to my prayer that meets my need, answers my questions and gives me comfort. And patient stillness is most usually needed to hear what He’s saying and to see what He wants me to do. I need to let my spiritual eyes, so to speak, adjust, and find a quiet where other sounds drop away and my heart can hear only His voice.

To be sure, there are times when God may be silent, and I need to wait. But my thought is that more often, it’s my lack of hearing and seeing. My lack of stillness and quiet that’s at the root of not knowing what God is saying and what He wants me to do about it. That lack of stillness may be more internal than external. Sometimes a strong need will be so loud in my heart and mind as to compete with the inner stillness needed to be ready to really hear Him…

But, what do I know for sure?
That the apostles, teachers and prophets in agreement and have said over and over, God speaks to His creation.
We are His creation- and more, we are the children He loves.
God IS love and wants to be close to us.
God wants us to know His will for us.
And His grace is always available to us to do His will.
God is always the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow. He cannot change.
But we can.
May we grow in knowing His voice, in seeing His loving guidance and doing His will.
May we grow in knowing that following Jesus is not a bunch of rules, but a loving, growing, committed relationship that leads us to our best life.
May we be changed to be more like Him.

Ears to hear and eyes to see—both are gifts from the Lord.
Proverbs 20:12 NLT

Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?
Mark 8:18 TNIV

…blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.
Matthew 13:16 TNIV

Some questions to think about this week:
1.What do you think? Do you know you hear God’s voice? Or do you feel you rarely know His voice?
2.Can you recall times when you heard His voice clearly? What was it like? An audible voice? A consensus of trusted friends? A voice through His Word? A knowing deep inside?
3.Was there a time in your past when you desperately needed to hear His voice and felt let down not hearing anything?
4.Maybe can you look back on that event or time now and see where He did speak? Are there times you recognize His voice in hindsight?

Romans 11:29 For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn.
May you recognize His call and live committed to it.

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