FAITHFUL LIVING: Crisis forges genuine faith

What flashes through your mind when someone claims to have heard the voice of God or possesses first-hand knowledge of His will?

I probably respond in ways similar to most people. I occasionally get a little uncomfortable. I wonder what God’s voice sounds like and why I have yet to audibly hear it. How does God make those choices?

And while it is way too easy to criticize any style that differs from our own, I believe that to focus on a physical voice gets us way off track. Instead, let us begin by asking ourselves the following questions:

Do I have any way of knowing how God views the choices I make on a daily basis? Most of us would be less than honest if we failed to admit that in moments of stress and worry we have turned our faces to heaven and shouted, “What am I to do here, God? A little heavenly advice would be good, right about now!”

Do I know the character of God and have some understanding as to the ways God has responded to people throughout history?

Do I know what promises God makes in the Bible, the kinds of promises that continue to be relevant — even in this modern age?

Is God communicating with me through events? People? Bible study? My journaling? Am I crowding out God’s words because I never get quiet enough to listen?

This week, as I prayed for a friend with a critically ill husband, I thought about an event in my life that gave me insight into the voice of God. In fact, I heard it.

It all began late one night, 15 years ago, as I sat on the floor in the dimmed hallway of a hospital beside my husband. We were in our 30s at the time and our baby girl was eight days old. She had seemed more than sleepy that day. In fact, I recall using the word lethargic to describe her demeanor. When I called her pediatrician to voice my concerns, he instructed us to meet him at the hospital where he was checking on his young hospitalized patients.

By the time we plopped down on that cold floor, dazed and exhausted, we had been at the hospital for hours while our family members waited back home with our 2-year-old daughter. The staff’s initial response to our newborn — casual and tender — had moved to an intensity that alarmed us. They began moving at a faster pace and ordered a series of tests with potentially dangerous side effects. And at last, when a spinal tap revealed that our precious little one had contracted meningitis, we found our way up to the children’s unit. We were not going home. She would be hospitalized and the tiniest of IVs would be inserted in the most available of her veins, to administer antibiotics until additional tests determined it was viral meningitis.

Never before had I met such contrasts. That cold floor. My husband’s warm hand. My tears. His stoic stare. The dark, quiet hallway. Katie’s angry, frantic wailing as nurses worked in the IV. The joy of her birth a week before had been replaced by the terror of not knowing if there might be long-term, physical challenges.

Why us? I cried out into that hallway. Why Katie, with the thick dark hair and the hazel eyes? I felt sad, and angry and completely powerless. For a few desperate moments it seemed that my prayers reached as far as the ceiling, only to bounce back down onto my lap.

Then from out of the blue came a phrase, in the form of a question — that popped into my mind like a beam of warm, bright light:

If not you, then who?

Why not my husband, our newborn baby girl and me? It was a question I could not avoid. I also knew this was not only God’s question to us, but also our question to Him. If we did not trust God with our baby, who deserved the greater trust? I realized it was time to hand over the life of our baby to God. At that moment we began living a legitimate, Christian life, probably for the first time — for handing over what is most precious to us is part of walking in genuine faith.

I believe I “heard” the voice of God in that hallway and from that night until today I continue to long for His voice. “If not you, then who?” is a question I now ask myself each time I need to let go.

Loosen your grip and listen this week.

Contact Joan Bay Klope at jbk

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