FAITHFUL LIVING: Listen for God’s subtle voice

“Speak to me now, Lord. I’m not quite sure which way you want me to go on this one!”

Have you ever sneaked away to a quiet place, while in the middle of a stressful or troubling time in your life, and simply asked God to provide you with wisdom? I have, many times in fact. It’s a regular prayer of mine. But I have to admit that in recent years I have too often stepped into the river I like to call “theological consumerism.” At moments I approach God almost with a you owe me kind of attitude, only I am probably a bit more polite about it. I’m usually not so demanding. I reason that acknowledging my need for Him should be enough. I’ll turn first to Him, I reason, and surely He’ll megaphone His wisdom to me.

But I’m realizing something about myself: Too often my willingness comes with an expectation. I approach the entire process like a seasoned bargaining agent. I want God to be obvious and immediate with me. I’ve long since given up the notion that I will hear His audible voice. And I certainly understand that I cannot possibly go it alone. But I often long for fresh, near brilliant ideas to pop into my head. I long for the kind of conversation with Him that I frequently experience on the job. If there is an issue needing some attention and I come in contact with an individual who can be part of the solution, I frequently embark on a concise, to-the-point discussion that cuts to the chase and leaves us both satisfied that we’ve resolved the issue — or at least understand it better and have a plan for reaching a satisfactory resolution.

Much of the time I don’t particularly want to hunt for God’s wisdom because I’m a busy lady. I certainly don’t want to be left with the feeling that my prayers are bouncing off the ceiling. Yet, some days the needs around me seem constant and immediate and I want the wisdom NOW! I don’t want to have to change my schedule, veer off my self-assigned course, sacrifice, brood, study or challenge myself. I want to be able to field the issues of life with finesse and hope, care and realism — and get there rather quickly.

This week God reminded me in His subtle, enduring way that He used a fiery bush only once. He wants, instead, for us to incorporate Him into our thoughts and allow ourselves to be open to new opportunities, new ideas and ways to encourage others. He wants us to dig deep and think, insisting that we not sit back idly for His answers but be active players and participants in the drama.

God is talking to us everyday. Are we hearing Him?

It came together for me this week when a young friend of mine accompanied me to church and walked away from the experience amazed. “How come it seemed like the pastor was speaking exactly to my circumstances and what I’m dealing with in my life right now?” he asked. To explain that one of the ways God works is using people and events to reveal His love was only understood because we stepped away from mere good thoughts and set ourselves in motion. A whole lot of us got ourselves out of bed on Sunday, made sure we arrived on time and participated in worship. Only then did we hear God’s message to us, experience the stunning joy of how pointedly He can speak to our circumstances, and feel invigorated — not only for the week but for the next time Sunday worship rolls along.

I also heard God in the grocery store this week when I spontaneously began visiting with a grandmother raising her grandchild. It was one of those moments when standing beside the tortilla selection and suddenly finding myself quietly speaking about parenting and aging, as well as discovering successful ways to manage stress, financial worries and health issues, reminded me that being in the grocery store that day was not just about grabbing the ingredients necessary for fish tacos. That’s easy if you aim your cart forward and lower your eyes. Shopping can also be about engaging in life-encouraging conversations and connecting with someone you sense needs a few moments of your time and some one-on-one attention. It can be about viewing the events of other’s lives and considering what God is revealing to you about your own life as you wrestle with matters of faith. God will use unplanned, spontaneous, impromptu events as lessons for you as well. You must simply give your heart and your time to Him. You must be willing to reprioritize, if need be. Only then will you hear God as He subtly reminds you that He is moving and speaking.

You won’t run into a burning bush, but you will hear Him and you heart will fill with joy.

Freelance writer Joan Bay Klope’s e-mail address is

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