Summary: God is trying to talk to all of us, but will we heed the still, small voice of God?
My boyfriend Brian and I spend a lot of time walking and hiking. We go all over the place – the woods, the beach, sometimes just around the block. Some of the trails are really flat and wide and easy to walk on. Others are rocky and steep. On almost every hike, we hit a stretch of trail that’s really overgrown, or muddy, or even has a creek running over it. Sometimes, we have to climb over fallen trees or avoid spiderwebs that span the path. Sometimes, we take a wrong turn on a side trail, but we always manage to find our way back to the right one. Sometimes the weather is beautiful, and sometimes it’s windy or rainy or cold. What you’re seeing on the screen behind you is video of some of the paths we’ve trodden over the last couple years.
I’d like to share a story of a walk Brian and I took this spring. It was March – warm enough for a hike but not really warm yet. Some of you might remember I had a lung infection back in the early spring – this was right before that and I was already feeling a little under the weather. So we decided to hike up at Kirkridge on the Appalachian Trail. It’s a nice, easy hike – flat, lots of interesting scenery, and not very strenuous. Unfortunately, the path has some extremely rocky stretches, and if you’re not careful, you can trip and fall pretty easily. The payoff, however, is an overlook with an unobstructed, 180 degree view of a beautify farm valley.
Now, like I said, I wasn’t feeling well that day, so I got tired pretty quickly. It was hard to breathe when keeping up conversation with Brian and walking at the same time, and I started stumbling over the rocks a lot. So I just decided to shut my mouth, slow down, and concentrate on the path. Before I knew it, I was having a nice conversation with God in my head. And I wasn’t stumbling anymore.
And while God and I were talking, he gave me a message for you.
It sounds weird to say that out loud – Hi there everyone, I’m here with a message from God! Makes me sound like a crackpot, or worse, some sort of con artist. But I assure you, while I may be a little nuts (mostly in a good way), I’m definitely not a crackpot. I’m also a terrible liar, so I don’t think I have much of a future as a con artist. No, I’m just someone who hears God talking in my head. Not all the time. Mostly when I’m quiet and not really thinking about anything else. Most of the time God tells me stuff about my own life, or gives me sermon ideas. Stuff like that. This time, he was very specific that I give you a message.
God did the same thing with Samuel, didn’t he? He came to him just as he was about to fall asleep – a quiet time – and gave him a message for Eli.
Now you may ask how I know this is actually God speaking to me, and not my imagination or some mental health issue. I’m actually really excited to share this with you because I’m guessing some of you have experienced it yourselves. It’s really very simple. A friend told me. Just like Eli told Samuel it was God talking to him.
Several years ago, before I ever got up in front of you to preach, a friend in this church who really understands spiritual gifts told me that God has given me the gift of prophecy. Not the Nostradamus kind of prophecy – I have no idea what the future holds or, I promise, I would give you all winning lottery numbers. No, she was talking about the spiritual gift of prophecy – the ability to understand God’s will and share it with other people. Basically, she told me that voice in my head that I can’t identify sometimes is God, speaking to me. Helping me understand the Bible – helping me help YOU understand the Bible. It’s why I started preaching in the first place. Because this friend is a good Christian, who lives her life for the Lord, who has forgotten more about conversing with God through prayer and spiritual gifts than I will ever know, and who I believed when she told me God talks to me. Just like Samuel believed Eli.
Now here’s the really cool part – once I learned that God talks to me, it became really easy to distinguish his voice from my own thoughts. Frankly, God knows so much more than I do that I don’t know how I could have ever mistaken his voice for my own thoughts. He sends me Bible passages I don’t know when I need them. He tells me things I don’t want to hear about how to live my life. He gives me better advice and ideas than I have ever been able to come up with on my own.