The noise of life drowns out a great deal. In the midst of singleness it was a job that always required more than 40 hours a week to complete. There was a large group of friends that always had something going on and frankly I was often the person organizing an outing to camp somewhere in the wild or to go to a concert or to just hang out and chill together with these friends.
Later it became the pursuit of a young lady (or two) and trying to find as many ways to be with her/them (it was often a threesome) and spend time with them as I could. Along with that was the need to be creative, work aggressively at the relationships and after a few years of investment have both of these relationships crash and burn.
When disruption forces me to prayer
All of this was the continuation of a very disruptive process in my life which would eventually force me toward an inner journey of prayer, contemplation and listening for God to speak. At first it had been the dilemma of what job to take. The choices had seemed clear. One was a job opportunity I had nurtured and put a lot of sweat and tears into. The other was tantamount to walking willingly into what would be an indeterminate amount of time in Purgatory. For those of you not raised Catholic, Purgatory is not Hell but you can see it from there. The frightening part of this process was that the more I prayed about which job to take, the more I heard God telling me I was supposed to be heading for working in Purgatory. A very scary proposition!
When God speaks
When you have never heard from God what should you expect? I never heard an audible voice but I sensed the formulation of answers to prayers. I was hoping, as I suspect Elijah was (1Kings 19), for the incontrovertible booming voice or something equally unmistakable. It never happened. Instead, it was a quiet presence that was unmistakable. It was a presence that at once made me feel exposed to the core of my being but in spite of that knowledge, accepted, loved and protected. The feeling was most comparable to childhood when mom took me in her arms when I was afraid and comforted me. My mother knew me and knew what a booger I could be but she loved me nevertheless. It was easy to accept that kind of presence as a child. It was and remains amazingly difficult as an adult.
Learning in hindsight the value of obeying
My entire adult life hinged on those quiet moments alone with God as mother, father and Creator forty years ago. Everything I have done in life and ministry, the woman I married and all that I have learned hinged on my hearing and obeying the presence and the quiet voice of God forty years ago. But I didn’t know it.
In a few weeks we will be together to pray, worship and nurture our spiritual hearing receptors to be able to listen to God. One of the major points of the NextGen Conference is to nurture our relationships with God and others. Come and spend some quality time with men and women who want to develop the ability to hear the “still small voice” Elijah heard.