I’ve heard countless sermons about hearing God’s voice and every time I’d think to myself ‘Why doesn’t God speak to me like He apparently does to everyone else?’ I’ve come back to this thought time and time again, but the past few months I’ve been thinking about it constantly. I didn’t want to keep pondering the question, I wanted an answer to the question. The more I reflected, the more I paid attention, I’ve learned why. It wasn’t that God wasn’t speaking to me, it was that I wasn’t open to hearing what He had to say. I would pray “speak to me,” but in my heart I really only wanted to hear what I wanted to hear and not what He actually wanted to tell me. I’d find myself fearful that if I opened myself to actually listening or making myself available to Him, He would tell me something that would flip my world around. I didn’t want that. I kept praying for change, but in reality, I didn’t want that. I was scared of that. The more I thought about why I was so fearful, I remembered a time in my past that made things a little more clear for me.
I remember when I was 15 years old, I prayed a prayer that I’ll never forget. I was coming back from a mission trip and on the bus ride back, I remember quietly praying to myself “make the words of Hosanna a reality.” If you’re not familiar with the song the specific lyrics I was praying were:
Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like you have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks yours
I want to emphasize that last line because I earnestly prayed those words without realizing what would actually happen. The weeks following, my closest friends suddenly didn’t want to be friends anymore, my family was in a terrible place and I felt so confused. I had just come back from this incredible mission trip, I was spending time with God and trying to build my relationship with him, and all I could think was why? why is this happening? I was upset, I was hurt, and couldn’t make sense of any of it, but after weeks of being angry, I remembered the prayer. I remember what I had asked God to do, and He really did what I asked. He showed me what it was like to lose the things I love, He was asking me, “Debbie, if you were to lose this all, would you still put your faith in me? Would you still love me? Will you trust that whatever happens right now is with purpose? Will you walk with me for however long it takes to see the good in your circumstance right now?” In that moment I wanted to just say h-e-double hockey sticks no, but I knew in my heart that He was good, He was faithful, and with Him I would see it through. I knew there was purpose in the pain and that I would come out of the trial better than I had entered it. Few months later, one of my friends called me out of the blue to reconcile, and she has been my best friend, my sister, my other half ever since. My family made an effort to be there for each other and to repair our relationships with one another. My aunt was cancer free. I was able to see the healing happen not only in my own heart, but in the hearts of the people who I loved around me. I made myself available to God and He took me through a difficult yet beautiful journey. He assured me that things would be okay.
Over the years, the faith I had in the Lord wavered. It was hard for me to remember that period of time when I was 15 and not remember the pain I felt while going through it. The feeling of being alone, the feeling of being rejected, the feeling of losing people I loved in the process. Despite the promising outcome, despite God walking with me the whole way, despite God showing me His faithfulness, I was still afraid because I couldn’t shake my doubts. Due to this fear, I put God in a box. I only wanted Him to change certain things, I only wanted to go to Him when I needed Him, I only wanted Him to take a little bit of control, but still give me some. Then I would ask to hear from Him, to give me direction. This was my problem. God is bigger than my fears and His voice is louder than my doubts. I needed to believe that and I needed to trust that.
If I truly want to hear God speak to me, I need to make myself available and have a heart that is willing to listen. To be honest, this has been really hard for me, but it’s been so clear to me that I need to have faith and allow God’s purpose to come first. It’s the only one that will ultimately matter. I didn’t really know what to do, so I just did what I could think of: giving more of my time to the Lord. Reading the word, praying, paying more attention to my surroundings and seeing how God is using the people around me to speak to me. Today, my roommate, Moni, sent me an article that was written in September of 2014, and I knew it wasn’t just a coincidence that she sent it to me today.. in September of 2016. I knew in my heart God was using her to speak to me. It couldn’t have come to me at a better time and the content was exactly what I needed to read. The title is “What if The Worst Happens?” and I encourage everyone who comes by this post to read it: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-if-the-worst-happens