Last night I was one of eight busy people who rushed eight miles from home to my church house-group. It would have been easy to pick up the telephone and make excuses linked to my busyness and not have gone. Possibly we all felt the same way. I don’t know. What I do know is that when we pressed the pause button and met together yesterday evening something happened that allowed God to speak.
First of all as our host produced coffee and tea we were able to talk and laugh together. We joked about how long it is taking us to work through our study book (John Ortberg’s ‘If You Want To Walk On Water You’ve Got To Get Out Of The Boat’) and then managed to cover just five questions spread over two pages. I am not sure how many months we have taken to complete the first two sessions of the study guide, each designed for one evening. We realised a long time ago that it doesn’t matter, as long as each time we meet we are open to God’s Holy Spirit and His leading. Yesterday, after a long day of hearing little more than the world shouting at us, we came to a place where we could hear God’s gentle whisper.
What did He say? I believe we received a clear reminder about the need to listen to Him daily, not just in house group, or in church. To ask Him what we can do for Him each day so that we can recognise the opportunities He lays before us. To be discerning and alert, to act and speak and think in accordance with His will for us in each place we find ourselves at any even given time. I believe God was calling us to be encouragers who like Peter are prepared to step out of the boat in the middle of the storm because we know Jesus is standing on the water ready to take our hands if we sink. God doesn’t call us to walk alone, but He does call us and we need to listen to Him. I don’t want to stand apologetically before Him one day and mumble, “sorry, but I didn’t hear You.”
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19: 11-13 NIV)
This same passage may be found in a post from a couple of weeks ago (Hearing Heart) that relates to the current sermon series at Hereford Baptist Church. The message is the same: God speaks. We just need to learn how to listen, and we need to make time to listen.