Learning to Listen to God. STEP 1
Devotional Thought of the Day:
20 Impressed by their bold belief, he said, “Friend, I forgive your sins.” 21 That set the religion scholars and Pharisees buzzing. “Who does he think he is? That’s blasphemous talk! God and only God can forgive sins.” 22 Jesus knew exactly what they were thinking and said, “Why all this gossipy whispering? 23 Which is simpler: to say ‘I forgive your sins,’ or to say ‘Get up and start walking’? 24 Well, just so it’s clear that I’m the Son of Man and authorized to do either, or both… .” He now spoke directly to the paraplegic: “Get up. Take your bedroll and go home.” 25 Without a moment’s hesitation, he did it—got up, took his blanket, and left for home, giving glory to God all the way. 26 The people rubbed their eyes, incredulous—and then also gave glory to God. Awestruck, they said, “We’ve never seen anything like that!”
Luke 5:20-26 (MSG)
God’s patience calls forth in us the courage to return to him, no matter how many mistakes and sins there may be in our life.
Doubts and hesitations justifiably trouble those who feel they are spoken to by God as Gideon was. “Why is it,” comedian Lily Tomlin asks, “that when we speak to God we are said to be praying but when God speaks to us we are said to be schizophrenic?”
Gideon, however, pursued the conversation with the angel of the Lord—testing the situation to see if it was real. We can do the same—think about it, wait, ask God to help us know if the speaker was himself or our own self.
There’s a new show, where a man receives text messages from God detailing his role in other people’s life. Though he is the son of a pastor, he struggles to believe in God, so these messages, well, he struggles with the messages, and the idea of a benevolent, loving God. A few years back there was another show with a similar twist, called Joan of Arcadia, and in a like manner, the young lady struggled with the idea that God would talk specifically and directly to her.
Lili Tomlin has a point, we will struggle to believe we are sane (and other people will as well) if we believe that God is talking to us.
But we need to hear Him, we need to hear His voice, as He talks to us. We need to begin to trust in Him and to have faith in Him, and you can’t do that unless you are listening, (and along with Gideon, asking to Go to help us discern whether it is truly God, or just our heart speaking)
Listening to God isn’t easy, and discerning that it is Him is challenging. He speaks to us through His word, and through His sacrament, but this is delivered through others voices, through others hands. through others lives. And He speaks to us in prayer, which is more than just a monologue of our laying our burdens down.
So how do we start, listening to God?
I would say it starts with hearing one of the most important things we can hear, what the man lowered through the roof heard.
My friend, I forgive your sins!
The Lord, who will judge all of Creation, forgave your sin.
You have to hear that and know that no-one, not even you, has the right to judge you as guilty of them. You have to hear those words, spoken with so much love, “I forgive your sins!”
Hearing God starts there. It opens up for you a great big can of healing (as opposed to the great gig can of whoop-#*& your think you deserve), it opens up the door to where God dwells and draws you in from the darkness of sin, shame, and the need for self-justification or self-pity. And in His presence, as you are welcomed into His glory, you get to hear the next message from God.
I am the Lord your God, and you, you are my people.
Start hearing these two messages, let them sink deeply in your soul, and your will begin to hear and clearly understand God.
Lord Jesus, as you did for the blind, open our eyes to see You, and as you did for the deaf, heal our hearing so we can hear Your words, spoken in love, that our sins are forgiven, and that we are in a relationship with You. ANd then help us to list, as you talk to us, thorugh the words You’ve given us, through Your sacraments, and through the people You bring into our lives. AMEN!
Pope Francis. (2013). A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. (A. Rossa, Ed.) (p. 366). New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis.
Willard, D., & Johnson, J. (2015). Hearing god through the year: a 365-day devotional. Westmont, IL: IVP Books.