Childhood passes slowly at the time, as slowly as summer when life holds little in the way of responsibility. How I miss those long carefree summers of childhood where each day seemed to be a beach day. Living on a small island four hours by sea from the mainland might have seemed like a prison at times for adults, but as a child it was absolute freedom for me. My bicycle, my friends, the beach, the rocks, the old fort at Grandes Rocques, Sausmarez Park, boat trips to Herm and Sark. It all seemed so good; sadly now it all seems so long ago.
Probably the last voice I wanted to hear in childhood was one belonging to a parent. Such a voice usually signalled an end to fun because it was time to go somewhere, or it was time to eat; or even worse bedtime, or a reprimand for some misdemeanour. Like most kids I almost certainly felt that parents were a necessary evil. I needed them for essentials such as food, clothes, shelter transport, pocket money and the like, but I did not need them telling me what to do, how to behave, or how to live my life. For some inexplicable reason they persisted in doing so. I’d like to think that parental responsibility aside the reason that they interfered in my life so much and so frequently was because they loved me – even when I was unlovable.
Nowadays it is God’s voice I often choose to ignore. I can’t explain why. I am now a father and a grandfather – I know how this parent stuff works. The problem is that I regularly fail to recognise how or why it applies to me. Why do I try God’s patience so often? The easy excuse for most followers of Jesus is that God doesn’t speak to them, at least not audibly or in a way that particularly grabs their attention and stops them in their tracks. I don’t agree. I believe that God is speaking to all of us constantly, but that like children we consider what we are doing to be more important and we shut Him out. Which brings me to recommend a very good book written by a very good friend of mine who strangely I have never met in person (this is because there is a large ocean between our two countries).
The book is entitled, ‘If I Plug My Ears, God Can’t Tell Me What To Do.’ The author is Jessie Clemence. The point that Jessie makes is that by not listening to God we are missing out. We may not be confronted by a voice from a burning bush like Moses, but we are all precious to God whose words to us and plans for our lives are driven by a love that we humans cannot describe, define or even remotely begin to understand. But then we don’t have to understand God’s love. We just have to accept it. And like children we need to listen to His parental voice, not plug our ears. What could you be missing out on today?
For God does speak – now one way, now another – though no one perceives it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they slumber in their beds,
He may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings, to turn them from wrongdoing and keep them from pride, to preserve them from the pit, their lives from perishing by the sword. (Job 33:14-18 NIV)