I grew up knowing about God. My parents modeled and taught me. I went to Sunday School and I learned a lot of my Bible stores from Arch Books. My Arch Books were children’s picture books with Bible Stories set to rhyme. Looking back now, I don’t care for them as much. They often corrupted the truth of the story by incorporating a child into it. The rhyme would often be awkward and easily set to the tune of Puff the Magic Dragon.
I remember one book about Abraham picking up and settling eventually in The Promised Land. The first page showed the kindly old man at the window of his apartment in Ur. A pagan parade is outside with folks dancing around an idol. Abraham is cupping his hand to his ear and God is telling him to move away. I remember that picture well. Abraham is just listening to God as if it happens every day.
I took to learning that God spoke out loud to folks a lot. I was taught about the boy Samuel living in the temple and is woken up by the voice of God. Prophets seemed to tap into God’s voice all the time. Jonah even heard God and ran the other way. I was impressed by all of this. I wanted God to talk like that to me too.
When I was still three or four years old, I didn’t like to get myself up in the morning. I slept in a normal bed and would have had no problem getting up and leaving my room. I might have been a little shy to do that. (I even knocked on the back door to come in after playing outside.) So I would often wake up and sit in my bed and wait for my mom to come in and find me. Often times I would become impatient and call her. My mom told me I didn’t need to do that. But I still did. So one morning I woke up and sat in my bed. I wanted to get up. I was about to call my mom when my stomach growled and… I am not making this up… my stomach spoke the word: “NOOO!”
My goodness, God had really spoken to me. He was telling me that I could just get myself up. Never mind that my stomach was empty and probably just making hungry noises. I wanted to believe that God talked to me. It was what I had always wanted.
In the years since, I know God has spoken to me. Most often it’s when an idea pops into my head that I couldn’t have, or wouldn’t want to think of myself. One time I was praying, thanking God for the extra money I had gotten, a tax refund I think. Then God told me who to give the money to. I would not have thought of it, but it made perfect sense.
I have learned that God may not tell me what I want to hear, but it always makes the most sense to obey. Most times, it means trusting Him more. And what I put on the line is always something I can stand to lose. It’s never something I can’t live without.
Sometimes I will think God wants me to do something and I may only be wishing something out of selfishness. Yes, that’s happened too, but only when I didn’t pray and listen and I didn’t seek Godly council. And I have learned that if it’s something that I think I want, that might do me good in the short run, it’s probably not the right thing.
So 2013 is coming to a close and here comes the next year. A lot will happen this coming year that I am looking forward to. I’m going to a Storyline Conference in February and taking a family vacation in March. We’ve got a family reunion in the summer. I hope to take a sabbatical sometime in the fall and of course, I’m already thinking about next November.
2013 was good, but there were some rough spots. I don’t know what 2014 will bring. Sometimes the bottom drops out of one’s life and then what? All I can do is keep my hand to my ear and not stare out at what doesn’t help.
That morning as a little kid, I heard what I thought was God’s voice. And it was telling me to do the right thing. “No” meant don’t call your mom and get yourself out of bed. I was so thrilled at hearing God’s voice I called my mom to tell her that my tummy said “no” and it was God talking to me.
I can even hear to do what’s right and go and do my own thing. I hope I can think less about what I want and more about listening to that voice, wherever it comes from.