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Encountering God

A number of years ago, I was visiting a friend of mine that I hadn’t seen in over a decade. We were catching up and enjoying a casual conversation, when I began sharing some of what God had been speaking to me at the time. After I’d shared, my friend turned to me and said, “You mean God really speaks to you?!” She was absolutely astonished at the idea, and I was equally shocked at her astonishment.

So many people – even those who pray hours each day – have never heard God’s voice. Whether it’s because they don’t stop talking long enough to let God respond, whether they don’t recognize his voice, whether they give credit for God’s words to the wrong source, or whether they’re just not listening, the vast majority of those who call themselves Christians lack consistent and life-changing encounters with God.

But it’s not enough just to talk to God – to bring Him our requests. It was said of David that he was a man after God’s heart (1 Samuel 13:14) – not that he hoped God was after his own heart. It should be that we are all that way, not so focused on our own desires and our own ways that we forget to seek His heart and His will and His desires for us.

I remember one time I was ministering in Milwaukee, and after one of the services, a young lady drove across town to where I was staying because the Lord had given her a message that I needed to hear. “You’re about to go through a period of major transition,” she said, “and it’s imperative that you listen.” Those words have not left my ears since she said them.

We have a saying around our office that says “God’s words in your mouth are as powerful as God’s words in His mouth.” Without arguing for or against the theological backing of that statement, it was clear that God spoke to me through the mouth of that young lady. It was far more than a suggestion, but a command that I believe will be life-changing for me as I learn to obey it. You see, this was not just a command to set aside an hour of my day or to go off into the woods somewhere for a few days to listen to God. I did that already. This was something more. It was a command to my lifestyle – not that I would set aside time to listen, but that I would have a posture of listening that I walked in every moment of the day. It’s like having a supernatural chiropractic adjustment – after it’s done, you walk differently, you carry yourself differently, you’re aligned differently.

Jesus said that He only did what He saw His Father doing and only said what He heard His Father saying. Jesus was didn’t just listen to God on occasion, though He did set aside special moments to get away and be alone with Him. Jesus was constantly tuned to God’s voice – He sought God’s heart – and He lived as He did and walked with such grace because He was aligned with the will of His Father.

In the years since I received this word, I have experienced it so deeply. I have been in countless situations since then where I have not known what to do, what decision to make, where to go, or how to walk through them. I’ve had to listen to God for every step – not for a direction or a destination, so that I would run with it in my own way and in my own time, but being tuned in to hear moment-by-moment instructions, leaving me with the freedom to simply follow (even when my worry and fear, or in other words my lack of trust, have kept me from feeling that freedom).

Now I don’t want to scare you with this idea if you’re just starting your walk, or if this seems like too big a step for you right now. It may be that you start with an hour a day (or a week, or any step above what you’ve done in the past) that you set aside to listen to God. Don’t be afraid or ashamed of where you are on the journey. But do know that this is where you’re headed as you continue down this path.

And when you meet with God, don’t just talk. Listen, read, worship, soak, pray, walk – do whatever brings you in God’s presence and get to know Him as you would a friend. Become a man or woman after God’s own heart. Seek Him. Listen for Him. Trust Him.

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