Sherri Lewis has been serving on the Collide team for several years. She has a hunger for God and for making her life count. Her desire to do right by God and to live an outstanding life is inspiring. Her ability to speak truth and make people laugh makes Sherri a fabulous friend to many! I love in this post how she puts into words our hope to hear God speak. As you read this, may God speak to you!- Willow
This season in my life has been at times wrought with questions of, “God, what’s next? I feel like there should be something more, that I should change course here. Should I think about kids or pursue obtaining a job that I love, a job that I feel I am meant to do? Will I be anything more than an average woman working a Monday through Friday, 8-5 desk job, coming home to a house, a husband and two cats, thinking about children someday, and wondering if I will actually be able to have them?” I found myself mulling over these questions one afternoon as I walked the trails during lunch on my aforementioned 8-5 day job.
As I was walking, I was listening to an audio sermon about the story of a small boy God used to feed 5,000 people. The message to me was, “See! God can use you just like he used this little boy who had little.” My response was, “Well, yeah… God used him and he had little, but me? I don’t have little and I don’t think I have a lot; I am just average and I am not sure if there really is more to life than just trying to make it – make good choices, practical ones, love those around me and read and pray every day.” It has been hard to believe God will do miracles in my life the same way he did for the little boy. I asked God, in that moment, to speak to me, to give me ears to hear Him, and to know He has a plan for me.
The sermon went on quoting verses such as, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (ESV, Ephesians 2:10). I wasn’t satisfied as these words yielded only more questions of, “Really, God? Is this your message to ME, here today? Am I really anything special? Do you mean it when you say that I am fearfully and wonderfully made?” (NIV, Psalm 139:14).
Is God really talking to me? I can’t help but sometimes feel like reading the Bible is almost like getting a mass text as I think, “You say that to everyone, God.” Does God really notice me, see me? Why can’t I hear Him talking to me? These feelings and thoughts have been on my mind as I had hoped that God would do something big for me so that I could write about how He answered me with His booming voice, encouraging others that He would answer them too in the same way. The reality is though, that I heard the opposite. I did not hear any booming voice or experience any miracle on my terms. I heard silence.
In Jesus Among Other Gods, by Ravi Zacharias, Ravi brings a new perspective to the silence and why God seems to be silent amid our questioning. When facing death on the cross, Christ’s response was fraught with few words and more silence. Ravi writes, “With all that Jesus said to Pilate, Pilate marveled most at His silence.” Ravi then quotes Mark 15:3-5, “The chief priests accused Him of many things. So again Pilate asked him, ‘Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of’ (NIV). But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.” There are two conclusions that Ravi draws from Jesus’s crucifixion and His character; God is sometimes silent in the face of those who have already made up their minds, and also, God will not force people to know Him through persuasive words or actions.
As I weigh these thoughts, I begin to understand why I have yet to experience any booming voice from God. It dawns on me that maybe I am not in a place to hear Him, because no matter what He says, I am stuck in my own world. I have put something between myself and God, whether that is negative thinking filled with lies, people that are pulling me down, distractions such as food or shopping, or simply the busy-ness of a full schedule. I realize that these distractions affect my perception of God and His voice all around me.
I am humbled in realizing how often I am envious of my neighbor and all they have that I don’t have: a perfect childhood with parents just a few miles away, a perfect job, the ability to eat a plate of brownies without a second thought as to whether it will indeed hit their thighs by morning, lots of money, or parents with money, the list goes on. I think for me, and maybe for a lot of women, envy and comparison are traps that often prevent us from truly seeing what God has done for us and the beautiful life he has given us amid our struggles, fears and deep-rooted desires. I struggle with feeling unqualified and uneducated; “I will never have the job of my dreams– a job where I feel I am valued,” and “College is out of reach for me while my husband and I pay off the student loans that got my husband his job teaching.” These are only a couple of thoughts or lies that fill my mind and prevent me from experiencing and knowing God’s truth.
In all honesty, I realized that if God were to call me on the telephone with His, what I imagine would be a booming voice, I would probably hang up in the same way I hang up on the caller who excitedly tells me I won a free trip to the Bahamas. The reality is I am living in my world, in this world, and not in God’s Kingdom understanding His terms and His truth that has never changed. The Lord says, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (NIV, Isaiah 55:9). What we think we should or want to hear from God really won’t have the impact we think it will. We won’t be satisfied. What we want is not always in line with what God wants for us, because the truth is that we have put something between Him and us. We will hear Him and know Him in ways that exceed our imaginations if we simply lay down our misconceptions and the lies we all hear and sometimes believe.
In looking back at my life and around me now, I see so many blessings, despite so many experiences filled with pain and hurt sometimes from my own choices and sometimes from the choices of others. I am so blessed to have good relationships now with my parents, my brother and sisters. God has given me a bonus family here in Bellingham that I am humbled to be a part of. I have an incredible husband who makes me laugh every day and has been a steady and unwavering force in my life. I am blessed to have a job where I can be my goofy self, work hard and be blessed financially. In it all, God is showing me that He is there watching and providing for me every step of the way. This is obvious as I remove the mask from my eyes and look back and all around me today and I can trust that God will continue to show me the way in the days, months and years ahead.
He is here with me no matter what is happening around me or to me. We simply need to discern between the lies and His truth. We need to look up and be Kingdom minded, not worldly minded. God will never force himself into our lives or yell at us to hear Him with His booming voice. He will wait for you and me. Whenever you are ready, look for Him and He will be there. Hear Him. Even when it’s silent.