Sunday, January 10, 2010
I'm excerpting Chapter 1 page 24, "Even Them, Even Then?" Brad Jersak's book "Can You Hear Me? Tuning in to the God Who Speaks". You can order this on Amazon, and I really, really recommend it if you are wanting to have an authentic relationship with God, improve on the relationship you have with him, or begin one with him. I am re-reading this for the third time. Maybe I don't retain information very well? Well, that may be true, but the book is that good. There are familiar references to Bible characters (for those of you who haven't read the Bible, there are books, chapter and verses for you to look them up).
" In theory, those who are most repentant, most obedient, most holy should hear God's voice most clearly and most often. Those who live to please God and submit wholly to his Lordship should get the best 'reception' as they tune in to his voice. Oddly, neither scripture nor experience support that theory. God's voice calls us to repentance, obedience and submission; those who hear and obey are blessed. But those are the results of hearing him, not the pre-conditions. If I can't hear his voice until I'm obedient, what am I obeying? And how obedient do I need to be for him to talk to me? Or how disobedient before he stops talking to me? If hearing God's voice was conditional upon my behaviour, the relationship would be a formula revolving around me and my performance. "Good people hear - bad people don't". That's the very religion Jesus opposed. Getting right with God is always and only a response to the grace gift of his voice.
Certainly there can be a famine of hearing when hearts are unrepentant, but that doesn't mean God is not speaking. As a band called "Out of the Grey" once wrote, "He is not silent, we are not listening." But the Lord has ways of catching our attention, even while we're plugging our ears. The danger of refusing to heed God's voice is not that he will resort to the silent treatment. Rather, we are warned that he will begin to speak more clearly and more forcefully, which is not always a pleasant experience (remember Jonah?). You can hear his voice as an ointment that heals or a sword that pierces. In either case, it will bring freedom and life when we finally listen.
When the prodigal son was still wallowing in the pigpen of his rebellion, he came to his senses and resolved to repent (Luke 15:17 - 18). Why? It was only because the voice of God graciously spoke to his heart. When Hosea's unfaithful wife had left her husband, forgotten the Lord and chased after multiple lovers, God said "Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her." (Hosea 2:14). In fact, most of the prophetic words in scripture are negative, not because God is generally grumpy, but because his love compels him to keep speaking to his wayward ones until they return home. If I read men like Jonah and David right, whether we are following God perfectly or running away feverishly, he graciously, relentlessly, even indiscriminately continues to speak! No wonder the poet Francis called him "the Hound of Heaven".
I've met a number of men in prison Bible studies who shared that it was while they were still in a stupor of a heroin trip or in the despair of prison lock-up that God visited them, spoke to them and saved them. I've heard the testimonies of women who, while still working the streets in East Vancouver, heard God's voice inside, warning them about which men would beat them and which were safe. God spoke to them even then, even there. Does this offend you? Why not let the scandalous kindness of God hearten you instead? On your very worst days, while you are still kicking against his will (Acts 26:14) God continues to broadcast his words of love, comfort, warning and promise in your direction. You will hear him and when you do, just see to it that you don't heard your heart."
The remainder of the book has very practical exercises, to help you know God, help you learn how to 'tune in', listen to him. . . for real.