speak

Courage and cowardice.

Strength and weakness.

When you think about it, the prophets of the Bible at one point lived each of those extremes.

Moses said no thanks in the beginning and eventually tells God, “’Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.’ The Lord said to him, ‘Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.’ But Moses said, ‘Lord, please send someone else to do it.’” [Exodus 4:10-13]

Isaiah had a vivid vision and was brought to his knees in humility, hearing God speak, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” [Isaiah 6:1-8]

Elijah got to a point he wanted to die after all the other prophets were killed, and hides in a cave, where he hears God speak, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” But the best part of the cave is that God tells him to go stand outside, then:

“And behold the Lord passes by, and a great strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was no in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.” [1 Kings 19:11-12]

Samuel thought God’s voice was actually his mentor’s voice and when he finally got clued in he said the scary words a prophet can never take back, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” [1 Samuel 3:10]

Examples of the prophets hearing the voice of God could go on for paragraph after paragraph. It was their calling to be a mouthpiece for God and to speak his words. Even on that level of being known and hearing from God there is still a common factor…they were all still human and their actions show that in some revealing ways, but it didn’t stop God from using them.

Some would say I am a mission-junkie…others know it has matured into more Kingdom-junkie, and I would definitely say I have become a prophet-junkie and that has a lot to do with really loving how God used the prophets.

I am constantly mesmerized by their ability to speak words to people in their own culture that were so incredibly painful to hear. Words full of truth, yes, but painful words at that. They were calling people back to rightness with God, and back into God’s heart, but the people didn’t want to hear that their behavior was too far outside of what God had instructed them to do. They didn’t want to hear that worshipping idols would really have consequences. They didn’t want to hear that their social indulgences of sex, prostitution and debauchery were wrong.

The words God had the prophets speak fell on deaf ears, and the Old Testament is full of stories of God trying to bring his children home.

God is still speaking now, and friends, God is still trying to bring his children home.

Can we honestly say we are seeking to hear his voice? When God speaks those words…do we even recognize it?

Samuel didn’t recognize the voice of God because it hadn’t been heard in thousands of years. He had no idea what it sounded like. Thankfully, his mentor instructed him to listen and say to God, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Wise words from an ailing priest with sons that continually made him look bad…(cliff note) Samuel’s first prophecy was to tell Eli that God was going to carry out everything against his family that he said he would, because Eli knew his sons’ sin and did nothing.

But the real question is…are we living in that time again where God’s voice hasn’t been heard in thousands of years? Or are there people who clearly hear the voice of God speak and we ignore them? Label them as crazy?

Elijah stood at that cave entrance dejected, dishonored and alone. But God showed up. Not in the wind, or the earthquake or the fire…but in a whisper. I have the fortunate timing of being placed where I can hear a whisper, but I still have to be an intentional listener with plenty of discernment time available.

What would happen if we all breathed out what Samuel did once he realized who was talking to him in that dark room where the voice of God woke him up? What would our lives look like if we intentionally spoke out as Samuel did, “Speak, for your servant is listening?”

Much courage and strength are needed to speak those words.

May God grant you that courage and strength, friends.

 

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As I sit here typing this, the sounds that surround me are the Pathways kids arguing about a foul while they play basketball, which quickly turns into girlish giggles and taunts…from boys. There is Creole floating over the wall from the village next door. A baby crying. A plane coming in for a landing at the airport. The tap tap honking as it passes another car on the road. The breeze fluttering through the trees. Goats yelping. Basketball bouncing. Rooster crowing. The fan whirling above me. The buzz of electricity. A gecko squeals. Someone help that goat, its head is probably caught in a can…it won’t stop ‘meh-ing.’ More roosters. Laughter from the community of kids next door.

Wherever you are reading this, close your eyes for a moment and listen to what surrounds you.

God has put you in that place.

In this unlikeliest of places, he has placed me. He has placed you. Through the power of the Holy Spirit and through the grace of the God over the entire universe…you have been placed and have the opportunity to encounter the one who placed you.

I have had Exodus 33 ringing in my head for almost 2 months. Moses finds himself yet again in the unlikeliest of places while trying to lead a people that have been placed with him…who refuse to actually do what they are supposed to be doing. Moses says to God, this being the ‘Stephanie Abbreviated Version,’ of course…Moses says to God, you have been telling me to lead these people, but clearly they are not all willing to do what I say. So which ones am I supposed to be leading? Which ones will you send with me? Then Moses asks for God to teach him his ways, so that he can know him and continue to please God. And God replies:

‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’

There is the sarcastic, human part of me that would have said, ‘God. Come on. We’ve been hanging out. You are already with me, I just want to know who else you are sending with me.’ But there is the other part of my brain that acknowledges the relationship that Moses had with God, and that God met with him face-to-face. Moses was set apart, and placed where God needed him. It didn’t matter that Moses felt unprepared for this adventure. It didn’t matter that most ignored what he said, and continued to go back to their ‘old’ ways. It didn’t matter that he was an awful speaker. God gave him a voice, and placed him where he was supposed to speak the words and instructions God gave him. We can’t control who listens. We can only be obedient to what God asks of us.

But none of this is what has been reaching into the depths of my soul and speaking to my heart.

Moses says, ‘Now show me your glory.’

Now? After being chosen. After the burning bush. After God gives him all the signs he asks for. After all the plagues. After the exodus. After the parting of the red sea. After the manna falls from the sky that isn’t enough…so then quail comes and covers the camp. After he is given the Ten Commandments. After spending one-on-one time with God, ‘as a man speaks with his friend.’ [Exodus 33:11]

After all that…‘now show me your glory.’

You could make an argument that Moses was a bit greedy with wanting to see more of God’s glory. But aren’t we all like that? Seeing the amazing things that God does around us, then asking for more. As if what he had already done wasn’t proof enough of his love, compassion, rescuing and grace. Granting a job when there is none. Saving the life of a child. Curing someone of cancer. Freedom from the bondage of sin in our lives. Reconciliation across cultural and racial lines. Holy Spirit moments that fill us to the point of giddiness.

When we experience significant moments when it is crystal clear that the hand of God is all over a situation we ache to see more of him. We are expectant for more…and so was Moses.

It is, also, the only place in the entire Bible that someone asks God to show them his glory.

And God’s response? God the creator obliges Moses, and that same creator obliges all of us.

As you listen to the sounds around you, acknowledge that God has placed you to see his glory in all the ways his glory shows up. With your family, friends, coworkers, sports teams, grocery stores, neighbors…in all of the places that you are every single day. God shows up there, and you should be looking not only for his glory, but for the ways he is calling you to be a witness to the glory you have already seen from him. Be willing to hear his voice in however that manifests for you. Be willing to rest in the presence of God. It is where you belong, and you will feel incomplete without it.

God, show us your glory.