When God’s Gentle Voice Doesn’t Seem So Gentle

   

I’m sure you’ve said to your children, “Eat this. It’s good for you.” In the same way, the lessons we learn from God are always good for us. But they aren’t always easy to digest. Recently, I’ve learned two difficult things about God’s gentle voice. One, it can take from us when we least expect it.  And two, it can sometimes send an arrow straight to our hearts.

We don’t understand God’s reasoning. Why would He give us something to love and enjoy and then take it away? Some of the hardest life lessons to embrace are found in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. Especially the first verse. There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven . . . .”

My husband and I recently responded to a need for help with a unique ministry in Poland this fall. However, I didn’t realize our time to plant would also be a time to uproot. (Ecc. 3:2)

In our start-up church, the small group ministry is crucial to helping new people connect. And this fall is crucial to the church as we move toward the time to fully launch. Meanwhile, I’ve had the privilege of leading a group of very special women. From day one, we clicked and were there for one another. We’ve studied together and shared our hearts with one another.

My concern has been what would happen with the group while I’m away. I thought perhaps they could share the leadership until I returned. But what about the new people coming in? The pastor explained his need for a point person to connect with. I understood that. Was I willing to let go of the group? Not really. 

God’s gentle voice can speak to us in strange places. On the morning of August 13th,  I was walking on the treadmill listening to Christian music. The words of the songs spoke volumes to me. Afterward, when I was on the floor stretching, the message became clear. What the group really needs is a leader–not to fill in for you–but to take your place. You need to let go.  It came as such a shock, I couldn’t believe it. Could this possibly be from God?

I lay on the floor and cried. Why, God? If I’d known you were going to take my group away, I wouldn’t have agreed to go to Poland. I moved from the floor to God’s Word, praying for confirmation and peace. Oswald Chambers’ devotion for that day was based on I Thessalonians 5:19. “Do not quench the Spirit.”

Was I quenching the Spirit? Perhaps so, I realized as I read the devotion. “The voice of the Spirit of God is as gentle as a summer breeze—so gentle that unless you are living in complete fellowship and oneness with God, you will never hear it . . . if you are not sensitive enough to detect His voice, you will quench it, and your spiritual life will be impaired. This sense of restraint will always come as a ‘still small voice’ (I Kings 19:12). . . but if you will go on through the crisis, your life will become a hymn of praise to God.”

I was reminded that day God’s desire is not only to wean us from the bad stuff. His gentle voice warns us against becoming too attached to anything that may cause us to miss His perfect will. And that means even the good stuff.

This leads me to another puzzling thought. Why do you suppose life’s struggles seem to be ongoing, while the serendipities come in spurts? I know; I sound like a passage from Ecclesiastes, don’t I?

In his commentary on Ecclesiastes, Ray Stedman concludes that man’s viewpoint on life is full of errors and only God can make sense of it all. How then do we mere human beings deal with the loss of something we treasure? How do we deal with our flawed thinking? How do we  tune our hearts to God’s gentle voice, even though we don’t understand or always welcome the message?

The following process worked for me.

  • First, we cry. It’s okay to mourn our loss as long as we trust God’s reasoning, even though we don’t understand it.
  • Next, we act upon truth and not our feelings. God’s Word is full of encouragement, clarity and direction. All we have to do is read and apply it, by faith.
  • Third, we praise God even though we don’t feel thankful. How? Again, by faith. True faith is confidence in and reliance upon the Lord and His Word, regardless of our circumstances.

The results: When we fix our eyes on the author and perfecter of our faith, He gives us the strength, joy and peace we need. (Hebrews 12:2-3 & Nehemiah 8:10)

It took me all morning to apply what God was teaching me. But when I finally got it, He filled me with complete joy. I now know great things are in store for our ministry in Poland, for the ladies group and for me. 🙂  That’s the kind of God we serve, right? A God with a kind heart, an attentive spirit and yes, a gentle voice.

Are you listening? What’s He saying to you right now?

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Comments
6 Responses to “When God’s Gentle Voice Doesn’t Seem So Gentle”
  1. Liz, you are SO wise! I hate that you have to give up the leadership, but I love your willing spirit and good attitude. (even if it took a little time for it to emerge!)

    I think of so many verses: “This is the way, walk in it…” and “He disciplines those He loves…” It’s not always the bad stuff that holds us back from His perfect will for our lives — it’s sometimes the good-but-not-right stuff!

    Hugs and prayers as you transition leadership and prepare for Poland!

    • Thanks, Susan for your encouraging words and input. You’re pretty wise yourself, to be so young. 🙂 Seriously, I love your insights. Thanks for the verse. More insight; I need all I can get, that’s for sure.

  2. Mary Beth says:

    You know Mom, you have always wanted to author a book that is published and maybe that is still in God’s plan but I must say, this is the time for you whether you realize it or not because the blog has been an incredible way for you to share the wisdom, blessings, hard lessons, all of it, whatever the Lord teaches you with us, immediately. It is fresh, it is from the heart and the Lord uses it immediately in the lives of those who read it. Thank you again for you vulnerability, transparency, and willingness to allow the Lord teach you and then share it with us. I love you and have no doubt that there are great things in store for y’all.

    • How is it that you always know exactly what to say to encourage me and keep me motivated. I know it’s not important for me to visibly see how God uses my writing, as long as I know He does. I suppose if you and your sisters were the only ones to benefit, that would be enough. It’s the only legacy I can leave behind since your inheritance will be pretty slim. 🙂

      Love and appreciate you soooo much. Mom

  3. harriett says:

    Dear Liz,, Your message today reminded me that sometimes I have kept a job for several years (did I think no one else could do it like me!!!) How hard it is to give up something you enjoy and have a heart for!The story in the Bible of the man whose friends lowered him from the roof to see Jesus because the crowd was so packed he couldn’t get in. Do we as christians,sometimes keep people from “the inner circle? Do we keep people from growing like we have? We could be keeping someone from the joy of serving as a leader for Jesus, Our task is to bring people to Jesus and to serve him. Our job is to teach others to step out and serve, (but could God have broken your arm and given you laryengitus instead of sending you to Poland!!!!) Just kidding!!! His way is best!! I am still thinking These blogs would be a wonderful devotional book for women!!! Maybe God is giving you new material from AND FOR Poland!

    • Thanks, friend, for the words of wisdom. You are so right. Sometimes our good intentions rob others of God’s intended blessings. Keep praying about a devotional book. I would need your help and a lot of direction.

      Love you, Liz

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