11.16.2006

the small, still whisper

"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world." -1 John 4:1

It's very clear to me that my particular salvation story might confuse some, which is why I tried to make it clear that this sort of thing doesn't happen this way on a daily basis for most people. (Read it if you've not. You'll see what I mean.) I've heard plenty of stories, especially from countries in which the Gospel is barely preached, of people who heard a voice or had a vision and came to know the Lord Jesus. But it's not something everyone experiences. And, consequently, it's not something everyone believes can even happen these days.

I know that people say they "hear voices" from time to time—and frequently that's not looked upon as a good thing. Certainly many are imagined. Some are just made up. Sometimes individuals use this as a basis to do something evil. Trust me, I've thought over all of this quite a lot, and had to come to some conclusions of my own.

I think the main question here is how do I know what I experienced was of God and not imagined? To that I will say two things.

First of all, the thoughts I was thinking at the time, and the life I was leading at the time, did not lend themselves to any particular moral change. I was quite enjoying my sin, thank you. As I recall, I was actually making some pathetic motion to thank God for the sin I was enjoying. And what a horrific and evil thing. A sinful and unrepentant creature attempting to thank a Holy and sinless God for allowing me to wallow in my own sin—the very sin for which He died in agony? Why He didn't strike me down right there, or on a few thousand other occasions, only the God of Grace can answer. So I had no real interest in changing anything. Why would I? I didn't really know Him at the time, but the world I knew.

Second, there was nothing said in those brief seconds that was contrary to God's word in the Bible. What was this really but a call to repentance? There was an incredible, gulfing rift between us because of my sin, and He introduced me to really seeing it in no uncertain terms. "Clean yourself up..." So the call was to repent and follow Him. Period. There was no debating. Oh, and how I tried. I actually started trying to think up the same lame excuses and justifications I used on myself and everyone else—even twisting the Bible to my own purposes. Obviously He'd have none of it. "You know what to do" was the answer to that nonsense. And so, by His enabling, I did.

Now, that said, I don't expect anyone to expect this to happen to them. As a matter of fact, I'd say you really don't want this type of experience. It wasn't exciting. It was scary. Deadly scary in an eternal way. I was faced with more than my own immorality and mortality—I was faced with the reality of a Holy God who has every right to leave me in my sin to experience an eternity in hell and out of His presence.

There are so many ways to be introduced to the living God. Truly, this was not my introduction, just my wake up call. I was introduced to tidbits of truth in many ways here and there, but He didn't prepare my heart to understand until after this time. To paraphrase Andy Stanley, Christianity isn't just something you come up with while meditating under a tree. It's based on historical recorded fact, and while God does the calling, He asks His servants to deliver the message. So I wasn't just sitting in my room and suddenly realized, "Oh! JESUS is my Savior! Got it!" No, the basic information of that reality was shared with me surrounding this event.

In the book "Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ," John Piper says, "...I do not ask you too pray for a special whisper from God to decide if Jesus is real. Rather I ask you to look at the Jesus of the Bible. Look at Him. Don't close your eyes and hope for a word of confirmation. Keep your eyes open and fill them with the full portrait of Jesus provided in the Bible. If you come to trust Jesus Christ as Lord and God, it will be because you see in Him a divine glory and excellence that simply is what it is—true."

It wasn't a "whisper" that has made my Lord real to me. No, it has been all I have learned of Him in the Bible and all He has taught me in life. It has been times of prayer in which I simply and fully rely on Him. And it has only been as He has revealed Himself to me. Those words were simply a call to the beginning of a life lived for Him.

Christianity, really knowing the Lord Jesus Christ, cannot be found in some esoteric experience of one kind or another. We grow as we learn about Him and rely on Him and ask Him to reveal Himself to us more fully. It is apparent that I will have all of eternity to continue learning about Him and serving Him, never fully comprehending the grace that has been given to me.

A recent prayer of mine is that He continue to amaze me. In this He will never fail, and I will never miss it as long as my focus remains consistently upon Him. I hope you too will see Jesus for who He really is and as He really is in whatever way He chooses to reveal Himself to you.

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand." -Jesus, John 10:27-28


Addendum, February 28, 2010:
I literally just came across a quote by C.S. Lewis I never read before tonight. I want to see it in context, but I have it cited as from "Cross-Examination," God in the Dock, 261. In speaking of his conversion, Lewis says, "I was the object, rather than the subject of this affair. I was decided upon. I was glad afterwards at the way it came out, but at the moment what I heard was God saying, 'Put down your gun and we'll talk.'"

I was really struck by this in ways I can't yet express. I have been known to agree with the assessment I've heard attributed to Lewis in the feeling that I, too, was "dragged into the Kingdom kicking and screaming," but I had no idea of this.

While we find the truth of anything only as it aligns with Scripture, it is most certainly intriguing to hear what God does in the lives of others, especially as we see their stories parallel to ours. I thought you might also be intrigued about this particular similarity as I was.

Praise God for His persistent pursuit of His own.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

So brave so honest wish i could be as strong at hart. I find it hard to follow the lord continualy.your story struck alot of chords with me. I have a problem using drugs i left going to church a while ago and turned my back on the best freinds ill probaly ever have.I miss them. They both are so talented at many diffrent things.Would you pray for me Sarah

mini ministry webservant said...

Yes I will. Remember, the Lord is able to use even our failures. I am not strong. He is.

Anonymous said...

Thank you.In the last few years the bottom really feels like it falling out on my life physicaly and emotionally.The one thing that keeps me going is i have a wonderful wife,who has stuck by me through thick and thin.She is good harted women who is drug free. she's a answer to a pray from a 16 year old boy who prayed many a night while his parents tore each other apart.May he always be your strenght"Oh"song bird of the lord.

MICHAEL said...

About 3 years ago I dropped into a black hole – four months of absolute terror. I wanted to end my life, but somehow [Holy Spirit], I reached out to a friend who took me to hospital. I had three visits [hospital] in four months – I actually thought I was in hell. I imagine I was going through some sort of metamorphosis [mental, physical & spiritual]. I had been seeing a therapist [1994] on a regular basis, up until this point in time. I actually thought I would be locked away – but the hospital staff was very supportive [I had no control over my process]. I was released from hospital 16th September 1994, but my fear, pain & shame had only subsided a little. I remember this particular morning waking up [home] & my process would start up again [fear, pain, & shame]. No one could help me, not even my therapist [I was terrified]. I asked Jesus Christ to have mercy on me & forgive me my sins. Slowly, all my fear has dissipated & I believe Jesus delivered me from my “psychological prison.” I am a practicing Catholic & the Holy Spirit is my friend & strength; every day since then has been a joy & blessing. I deserve to go to hell for the life I have led, but Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross, delivered me from my inequities. John 3: 8, John 15: 26, are verses I can relate to, organically. He’s a real person who is with me all the time. I have so much joy & peace in my life, today, after a childhood spent in orphanages [England & Australia]. God LOVES me so much. Fear, pain, & shame, are no longer my constant companions. I just wanted to share my experience with you [Luke 8: 16 – 17].

Peace Be With You
Micky

Anonymous said...

Dear song bird of the lord God bless you today and everyday to you and yours. Well the bottom has fallen out on me physicaly and emotionally only to fall in the hands of the lord where everyday i with fear and weakness at hart i am trying to renew my relationship with the lord. 7 days ago today i flushed my pot down the toliet.I think its important for you to know since i asked you to pray for me.Im supposed to have surgey soon i should find out soon when. Ive been there before and to say the least im not looking forward to the ooooooch of it.I do belive god has heard you on my behalf and i thank you for your prayers.Im taking another class in the school of hard knox but i know i needed this.I have a CT scan on tuesday to rule out any other things.Sorry i wanted to make this short but would you pray for me that my scan and surgery will work out fine? And that i would grow stong in the Lord and to his will all the days of my life.To tell you the truth the only thing i fear is the Lord and my fallen nature i dont want to be seperated from god and his mercy.Will you pray that ill be restored physically and spirtaully