There is a recurring scene I see, often in heist movies. One of the protagonists is in a maze with an earpiece while a partner, usually with a digital layout of the site, providing directions. The actor in the maze completely reliant on his or her partner to navigate them through the maze usually because the partner sees the whole picture. There is often an element of trust in the relationship because both parties have a common goal. If there is an issue with communication signal or the actor in the maze turns off the earpiece and refuses to take the directions proffered, disaster becomes much more likely.
I find this an apt analogy for my Christian walk. There are no guarantees in my life and like a maze, we do not know what is round the corner because we do not see the whole picture. On reflection, I find that I am far more likely to try and figure things out on my own. Invariably, there will be situations that overwhelm me and I am incapable of saving myself. When this happens, my default response is panic. It is astounding how often this occurs in my life and I doubt I am alone in this. However, there is an alternative. I can trust that God sees the whole picture, He knows what lies ahead and the best way to navigate through it. So, I can always ask Him “what do I do next?”
In the Books of Samuel, there is a phrase that recurs a few times in the earlier parts of the story of David. When David was faced with a decision, the author says “…David inquired of the Lord…” [1 Samuel 23:2, 4 or 2 Samuel 5:19, 23]. Invariably, when he did, God answered and David made the right decision. I often wonder how this happened. I know in those days, the high priests carried precious stones (Urim and the Thummin) in their robes, which they used to determine God’s will [see Exodus 28:30] and at other times, God’s people cast lots to determine God’s will [see Leviticus 16:8-10, Joshua 18:10]. But David didn’t rely on these and in some cases, they weren’t always successful [see 1 Samuel 28:6]. What seems evident in David’s life is that He knew how to decipher God’s voice and what God wanted to him to do next. How many of us can say this about ourselves? Are you able to recognise God’s voice?
One thing is certain, God wants us to be informed. He has revealed Himself to us so that we may know who He is and how He feels about us. So that in knowing Him and His character, we would come to believe (trust) in Him. He never intended for us to do life on our own because, without Him, we will get it all wrong. Part of God’s redeeming work in the life of a believer is to take up dwelling inside him or her. Essentially, God cannot get any closer than living inside you and me but He will never force us to obey Him. He speaks to us not with a loud booming voice but often in a whisper that can be ignored.
God’s character offers us some assurances. His love for us means He never gives up trying to reach us, to save us from the assured disaster that lies ahead without Him. Going back to my earlier analogy, God has guaranteed that we will never have an issue with the communication signal or the hearing device. However, He has also endowed us with free will to accept or reject Him. Therefore, it is up to us keep the device on and in our ears, and follow the directions we are given. Moreover, there are usually other competing voices which we must learn to tune out but I feel the biggest barrier to traverse is trust. Will I trust God when I feel I am being led down a dead-end? Will I trust Him when things look bleak and the proverbial walls are caving in? Or will I panic and try to figure it out on my own?
Last week, I touched on making time to give God our undivided attention. There are at least three obvious aspects to this. Firstly, we must make time to listen to God. This requires shutting out distractions and being silent. In today’s world, it can be very difficult to find a quiet space away from the incessant noise of everyday life. So, we must be intentional about making time to hear God otherwise, it is unlikely to happen. Secondly, we must be able to recognise God’s voice but it starts with knowing His Word. Anything God says to you will always be consistent with what He has already said in His Word. If it isn’t consistent, beware. Also, in my experience, God speaks to everyone differently. It could be through people, books, art, nature, music or other means but as your Creator, He knows the best way to communicate with you. However, learning to hear God comes with practice. The more time you spend with God, the better you will be at recognising His voice. There are no shortcuts.
What was the last thing God said to you? Have you done it yet? The first two steps are irrelevant if we don’t follow the directions we are given. Oftentimes, God’s answer to “what do I do next?” only makes sense in hindsight. Therefore, all you have to go on at the point of decision is trust. If you find yourself here, I encourage you to trust because those who trust in God will not be put to shame [Psalm 25:3, Romans 10:11].