Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Traveling through the Valley of Question Marks...

Does God "speak" into your world?
Do you know the solid, sure "whisper" of the One who Redeems?
Do you think God's "voice" is only for the "holy" --- not for the "ordinary"?
Do you ever hunger to hear less of what is so loud around you --- and more of what the Life-Giver has to say?

Several years back a friend told me he does not believe God speaks anymore. This Christian gentleman believed it was arrogant and self-righteous to suppose GOD would speak --- today.
Even as he spoke --- there was a distinct longing in his eyes. The strength of his unconvincing words did not mask the sadness of the "child" in front of me. We talked long over it --- i heard his tales of others who believed as he did. I prayed and asked God to reveal to me with certainty if i was misguided in my belief that HE whispered to my soul --- and breathed life into my tired world when He did so. So i began a pilgrimage to learn, ask, seek ---- research.

I found --- that without a doubt --- my Abba does still speak to his children.

In a tear-filled crescendo of asking --- the One who saved my soul whispered inside me declaring He was grieved that some would silence Him through pious "holy" arguments. He may speak through the Holy Spirit, He may speak through the Father, He may speak through the Son, ----- goodness --- if He spoke through a donkey's mouth (Numbers 22:28) ---- will He now allow us to limit Him and silence His words to us.

So while it is very true, some believe our God does not speak to His children and has not since the arrival of the Holy Spirit at Christ's ascension --- my soul knows my Father's voice and this I can not deny. Unfortunately, there are others who "use" the "voice of God" for their own manipulative purposes saying God has spoken to them when in truth they simply want their way and will use even the name of God to accomplish their plans. This twisting of truth --- either already is or will soon be a matter of great discussion and discipline between them and God --- God will not be used or mocked.

I've had friends ask me how it is i know that God is speaking to my soul. Some ask with comradery, thankful to know others still "hear" His whispers too. Many ask with a longing in their eyes. Some ask with a wondering sometimes akin to skepticism. But all ask i believe, because we have a common longing --- we want to know that our Abba is truly near. We want to hear Him.

In my earlier years, i can not say that i felt/heard God speak to my heart. During those years, instead i was busy learning about Him and trying to obey Him. I would do what i hoped would please Him, and for the most part i would refrain from doing what i thought would anger Him.
Then as i grew both emotionally and spiritually, i began to want more --- i wanted to know my Savior. So i began "talking" with Him as i prayed to Him and pausing --- hoping to hear... I began reading His Word daily --sometimes understanding it and sometimes not -- but ready regardless. Then, it slowly came --- always laced with His Word i had been reading --- i began to hear His whispers in my soul.

Three things i know for certain:
- God rarely, if ever yells (He is not a coach trying to win a game. He has already won.) - God rarely, if ever rushes His children (He is not a salesman trying to seal a deal. The deal has already been sealed.) - God will never speak to His children in ways contrary to His Word (He is not a politician, trying to gain followers by telling them what they want to hear.)

Today's writing is a tiny example of the way my Yahweh speaks to my soul. May it bless and encourage you as you too listen for the Savior's own whispers to your soul.

Months before, during winter's cold, we had driven deep in the mountains and had come across a beautiful place. There, a wide river curved and curled perfectly beside the roadway, and arching over the river a massive tree spread its limb. The river danced around the rock ledges and boulders; the sunlight on those gurgling ripples glowed white. With little imagination, i could almost convince myself the white rolling waters were giggling as the sunlight touched them. It's where the water gets to fly briefly, rolling off the tall rock and traveling smoothly in midair until it once again plunges into the water held down. Why wouldn't water laugh when the sunlight hits it during mid-flight?

For today's picnic date, we hoped to find this special place again.
Picnic packed we retraced our path hoping we could remember the way. North to Dawsonville, then east to Ellijah, turn right towards George Mountain, then left on the road to Aska. Right in the old town of Dial, and somewhere very near there, we'd re-find it. But as we came to the place where we thought it would be, we were shocked to find it "missing". We rode up and down the road several times --- there was the river, but where was the tree? Where was the dirt knoll under the tree limbs, that perfect place to sit and write while my favorite guy fished till his heart was content. We passed through four times, trying to find it, disappointed each time. And so we continued on, questioning our memory and linking right up with a good dose of confusion.
If we had not both seen the picture perfect spot, we would have doubted our clarity of mind. I even said to Steve, if you had not seen it with me, i would be quite certain it was only a dream. But, we, together, knew it was real, so we could encourage each other to continue searching.

We drove for many miles, trying to remember the way, but always finding ourselves in places we had never been before. Surrendering our picnic plans, we ate in the car as we covered ground in the search. We laughed at ourselves and joked that we'd driven miles into the mountains to each sandwiches from home.
Then it came, this whisper in my soul. Not so much clear words as i will type them out now --- but more of a conversational whisper for the heart. And it said, "I know exactly where you are donna, and i know exactly where the beautiful tree beside the creek is. I made you both. I'm not lost. I'm not toying with you either. Today's drive is about something much bigger than finding a
place you once saw and now want to revisit. 

You thought you knew the way. 
You do not.
But I do not expect you to know the way.
I want you to look to me. 
I love it when you embrace your uncertainty, and hand it to me. 

Because I can do much with a child that is looking -- to me --- for me. 

Just keep moving forward. No matter what. I'll get you to where I want you to be."

As we rode along, i shared with my Steve what had flowed into my heart. He smiled that warm smile.

We kept going, miles passing by. Finally turning in the direction of home and admitting we were disappointed. We talked of other things. We knew the way back home, but not the way to where we thought we would be going on that day.
Then suddenly, we rounded a curve and in the same moment both shouted, "There it is!" Exactly as we had remembered, but far, far from the place we had expected it to be. We parked and pulled out our fishing poles, camp chairs, books, etc. We were amazed that no one else was there, not a car in sight, we had this oasis in the mountains all to ourselves.
Now earlier this same morning, while the sun slowly climbed higher, Steve and i had sipped our coffee, read our devotions together, and began praying ----over many things -- over many people -- and for me, i had prayed over doubts. Am i allowed to admit, i sometimes have doubts. Doesn't make me look so great does it? i am not! But oh how i love the One who is.
On this particular morning i confessed to Steve that i was concerned over this and that ---- and if God was actually going to follow through with what He continues to whisper to our souls. We both hear His beckoning ---- "Leave all this, follow me, speak my truths, love, lay down what is comfortable, pick up the bag of ambiguity -- I can do much in your world of question marks."
Steve and i prayed and talked ---- it's a beautiful thing when God's encouragements flow to us through the one we promised forever to.

But here on this riverside --- no sooner had i sat down beside the laughing water, in this place where men created nothing and God created it all, i heard Him clearly again.
Such a beautiful reminder -- His response to my groaning words at sunrise. "little donna, you had a vision in your mind of a place you had seen and today wanted to go back to. At first, during the excitement of packing the picnic and readying your self for the day, you thought you could remember exactly how to get here, you thought you knew the way. But then as the day rolled on, and what you expected to see was not what was before you, you became quietly discouraged. You wondered if the vision in your mind was even real. You doubted your ability to remember clearly. You became discouraged. You were not arriving at the dreamed of place in the time you had predicted. When you stopped once along the way, there were flying gnats and the air felt stifling. Even this was used to feed discouragement since you automatically assumed the hot air and flying pests would surely be at your hoped for spot beside the river. This made the dream, the vision, seem less appealing. Discouragement took another bite.
You thought you knew. You did not. But i knew the appointed time i wanted you to arrive. I knew there were people earlier in the day filling up the place i was holding for you at the time of my choosing. Or perhaps there was a snake there that would have surely dealt you harm. Or could it be that if your car had traveled there earlier another car would have veered into your lane and ended the joy all together. 

I knew what was needed and i knew when the time would be exactly right. 

Your doubt doesn't alter the vision,
 but it can make the journey much more difficult

I will never leave you or forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)
I will see you through to the end. (Matthew 28:20)
I will make a way for you in the desert places. (Isaiah 43:19)
You will always find refuge in Me, under my wing. (Psalm 91:4)
All of your fountains are found in ME." (Psalm 87:7)

Whatever your dream or vision from God may be, oh how I hope my ramblings bring you a full dose of encouragement. We all get discouraged, but our Abba has much to say in the valley of question marks. He created the valley, not so He could toy with us there --- but rather, because He knew we would grow there. He knew we would need to look to Him there. He loves when we look to Him.
The valley of question marks... I think it may be one of His favorite places to walk with us --- He has our full attention there.

©2012 Donna Taylor/Reaching for the Robe

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