Gary has been a friend for several years, but about two years ago he went waaaay up in my esteem. We were sitting over coffee and had talked about his small remodel project he was considering. Out of the blue, he asked me, “Well, c.a., what have you heard from the Lord lately? What’s He saying to you these days?”
Now there’s a mind-bender when you’re not expecting one! I had blogged about Prayer, Love, The God Who Is There, the Bible, Jesus, and many other Christ-centered themes, but I did not expect to hear from God that particular day. Like most of us I had settled into my routines and was living for God. But most of the stuff on my “living for God” list was back to ancient teachings from when I was a kid; basically, a list of things I did not do.
1. No beating up anybody, although I got very angry at that other driver and would have shot his tires if that would not get me arrested.
2. No swearing, although several unkind words were on my mind about that same driver.
3. No lying. Actually this one is easy for me because if I lie, I will have to remember what I told someone. I always tell the truth even when it is to my disadvantage.
4. No porn, although I thought for an awful long time about that girl in the mall with the short shorts and tank top.
5. No cheating on my taxes (okay, so my wife does our annual tribute to the IRS).
6. No smoking; I have never even had a drag on a cigarette, but don’t think one goes to hell for this anyway.
And actually there was a list of things I did DO, but many of them were also part of the routine. I attended meetings of believers regularly per Hebrews 10:25. We gave faithfully to the reach of Jesus in the world through various organizations and participated in active missions whenever we traveled, even if the cover for the trip was academic or social. I prayed fairly regularly for friends and family. And both of these lists could go on.
But the thing that struck me with Gary’s question was the expectation that if I was living with a living God, Gary expected us to be in conversation! It was shortly after this that I blogged on Practicing the Presence (). His question awoke in me an awareness that most of the time I was not listening for Someone else’s voice, even as I blogged on Christ-honoring themes. What a Pharisee I was turning back into!
Not everything about the Pharisees was bad. Paul even listed off some of the good things his life as a Pharisee meant. But then he said, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.“ (Philippians 3:7) Even the good stuff of being a religious leader, even the zeal for godliness that came through obedience to the Law of Moses.
So now Gary’s question keeps ringing in my ears, even after two years, and I listen for that Voice more often. Whether serving my home owners’ association, going out to dinner with friends, shopping at Walmart or Lowes, planning a trip to Arizona to see my brother or Miami to see former students, or dealing with issues with my K.C. family, I try to listen for a Voice, and when I listen I discover He is not silent. I am not an expert at this, but I am growing and listening more than ever before.
When you gather with other believers this weekend, if you attend a church or small group, consider asking questions that will open their hearts and serve them.
Start with what Gary asked me,
1. “What has God been saying to you lately?”
Then ask two other questions (stolen from Crossway 😉 ):
2. What is the best thing that happened to you this week?
3. What is the worst thing that happened to you this week?
Be prepared to take some time for the answers. Be genuine in your desire to build up and encourage holiness, obedience and unfettered love among the disciples. And listen for a Voice that will tell you how to live according to His word in love, faith and hope. Like Francis Shaeffer said in his excellent book by this title, “He is there and He is not silent.”
What have you heard lately?