I heard from God the other day. No, I'm not talking about an audible manifestation of His Words. It wasn't a loud, mighty voice from heaven or a soft whisper. Nor did an angel appear to me. Nothing so dramatic as that. But I heard something that I had heard from God before, put in a new way, and it spoke to me in a new way, nudging my heart closer to God's.
What do you do when you hear a word from God? If Scripture (and hopefully personal experience) is a good indication, then you perk up. You listen. And when God tells you to do something, you step out in faith. You don't merely examine the "ladder" of God's directions to you. You trust that what He says is true and you step up on that ladder in faith. Faith implies action; faith without works is dead, James tells us (2:26). Put another way, God doesn't want a lifeless Body, but He wants His Body, the Church, to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of Jesus living in us individually and collectively. The Spirit that moves us into action, bringing the Kingdom where He sends us everyday.
I wouldn't be at all surprised if your next question was something like, "How do I know when God is speaking to me? How can I make sure it really is a message from Him, and not something else?" The answer is a question: "Have you heard God say this in Scripture?" Has God communicated this to you in the past, in a place that God's people believe to be authoritative? Does that Bible say this, as God's own Word? Is what you hear Him saying to you now match up with that clearly-expressed Word?
Lots of very personal questions here, I know, and ones that often require some focused reading of Scripture and deep reflection to properly answer. It also requires a knowledge of what God has said in the past, so we know what the truth is. Jesus said that knowing the truth sets us free (John 8:32). Part of embracing that freedom is knowing God's Word well enough to know the truth of Who God is and who He calls us to be and to do. With that knowledge as a part of us, through a lifetime of seeking God in His Word, we can hear more clearly when He is seeking to emphasize something He's telling us, encouraging us to pay extra-careful attention.
So the other week I had one of those "God's-underlining-something-for-me" moments. I heard one of my favorite verses, and it spoke to me in a new and poignant way. In Matthew 11:28, Jesus says, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." I was reminded that I, me personally, was someone who is often weary and burdened. With that phrase already identified and properly "aimed" at myself, I was able to hear the verse as Jesus' words for me: "Come to me, Aaron...I'll give you rest." A tender invitation. A promise of care, respite, and a lifting of burdens.
I often need to be reminded that I can't make God's Kingdom come on my own. I feel the responsibility. But like Greg Finke likes to say, Jesus always does the "heavy lifting." A pastor friend of mine recently said it like this: "Work like it all depends on you; leave the results to God." God invites us to join Him in the harvest fields where He alone makes things grow. When I start to feel like I have to do the impossible work of making things grow and produce fruit, work that truly belongs only in the capable hands of God, He gently invites me back to my identity as His very much-loved child: "Come to me... I'll give you rest."
I pray that this summer provides opportunities for you to hear these words of Jesus for yourself, and to step out in faith, to embrace the physical, mental, and spiritual rest that comes with spending time with Jesus and others. Wherever God sends you this summer, it's still true that...
Adventure is out there!