A few weeks ago I wrote about white knuckling the steering wheel of your life. I also wrote about peeling your fingers off the wheel and handing it over to God. Not long after that, I was asked to do something way out of my comfort zone – funny how that happens!
That ‘thing’, was giving the message at Thursday Night Church. In the eight years that I’ve been here, I have only ever done this with the kids at Sunday School – which is easy as I feel I’m in control. However, in the past when I’ve had to speak to adults, I found it very stressful indeed.
So, in my preparation for giving the message, I went through all the readings, letting them brew in my mind until they fermented into something new and helpful for people in their walk with God. The reading that jumped out at me was Jeremiah 1:4-10, because it contains two particular themes that echo throughout the Bible. The first is that those who have often been the most impactful on the lives of others have been the least sure that they can fulfill God’s call on them. And the second is that there is a two-way street when conversing with God – it’s a dialogue. So here I was, having written my Blog, being asked to give the message on Thursday, and feeling like Jeremiah – wondering why I had to live my own message and do what God asks.
In the end I said, “Well, why not!” So, during these past two weeks I have been praying, and wondering if I have made the right decision. And, I think I have, for as I was thinking about this message and what I’m going to do, I realised that those two themes in the Bible are true: I’m not going to be 100% sure until I try and I need to talk to God, like Jeremiah.
If we have a look at the New Testament, we can learn many things about talking to God. One is that most of the conversations people have with Jesus consist of questions and stories, clarifications and prompts. Jesus hardly ever gives out answers like a FAQ. And even when he does they are not easy to understand at first glance. Jesus seems to know that learning and deep understanding come from both the intellect and the new perspective that occurs when our character is changed. Another one is that, when Jesus ascends to heaven he leaves the Holy Spirit to be with us, to encourage, guide and comfort us but, interestingly, not to provide all the answers. God does not generally encourage blind faith, as some people might think. He actually encourages us to bring everything to him, including our doubt, worry and anger, and then to rest in him.
So, I encourage you to have real, open, authentic talks with God. To do this well, you need to find yourself a space where you aren’t interrupted and you are able to keep your focus on wanting to talk to and hear from God. I have found that going for a long walk by myself enables me to spend time seeking what God wants me to know. I find that even before I am in a place to hear his still quiet voice in my heart and mind, I need time to tell him all the things I’m not happy about or don’t understand and asking him all my questions. But, please know that it’s ok not to hear anything or to feel like it hasn’t ‘worked’. One thing I have found comforting is that Mother Theresa felt like she had a ‘drought on hearing God’ for 10 years in her life. Even she felt that she wasn’t getting through. But, she didn’t give up – she knew her calling and continued on in the doubt.
Even though we are called to do what is uncomfortable, God can still feel like a warm, comforting place, when we reach out and seek his direction. And even though it can be hard to do and sometimes it can feel like a waste of time, keep going, knowing that eventually God will show up.