Most people would love to hear God’s voice clearly, to have a vision that they were certain was a message from God. We just want to know, to be sure, to be able to say “I’m doing this because I know God told me to”. It doesn’t happen for everyone, and isn’t always that clear. But as we spend more and more time with Jesus, each of us learn how to recognize His leading in our lives.
But then there is the story of Paul in Acts 18. We’re reading through this section today in our church’s Amazing Race reading schedule. In Acts 18, Jesus appears to Paul and tells him “Don’t be afraid, keep speaking. I’m with you, and no one is going to harm you in this city.” Ok, if that happened to one of us, how would we react? Would we trust it, or blame it on too much pepperoni on the pizza we had before bed? Paul trusts it, and keeps teaching. And God keeps His word, protecting Paul and using him in that city for a year and a half.
Then, a couple of pages later, God speaks to Paul again in chapter 20. Check this one out, Paul says: ”I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.” God talks clearly to Paul. Over and over. Only this time, He tells him that Paul is headed for prison, and it will be tough. God speaks to Paul. Clearly. God has proven that He will carry out what He tells Paul. But does Paul really want to hear this?
But what about the times God clearly tells us something we don’t want to hear?
Will we listen then?
Paul isn’t told to be quiet so that he can avoid prison. He’s just told that as you do what is right, what I’m telling you to, its going to get bad. So, Paul is faced with shutting up and trying to avoid prison or continuing on, and seeing if God is really going to let him go there.
What would you do?
No, really, what would you do? Why? Why that answer? You understand, it’s prison one way or the other. We can choose to be quiet, and live in the prison of our own guilt and disobedience everyday. Or we can choose to obey, and face the prison of brick and mortar. When we hear things like this from God, we have to decide what real freedom is. We have to decide who we belong to. We have to decide why we breathe in and out, and live each day. We have to decide.
So, today, you are faced with choices. God does speak to us. If you’ve read today’s Amazing Race reading, God is speaking to you. If you are praying and listening, God is speaking to you. If you listen to the sermon’s each week, God is speaking to you. The choice is yours. Will you listen?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.