God can speak to us in many different ways – through the Bible, through circumstances, through others who speak His will, through talking directly to our hearts and minds. However, if you talk with enough Christians – especially those who have watched and listened for God enough times – I think you’ll find that it’s a lot easier to hear God when we’re listening for Him.
Some parents avoid shouting at their children, and I agree that’s a good idea. However, when my son was about to open the van door and get out into traffic on a busy street the other day, I didn’t hesitate to raise my voice to get his attention. I wasn’t angry with him – I just needed to get my message across clearly.
Similarly, during a fire drill at work last month, the alarm was almost ear-piercing. It was definitely enough to make everyone want to leave the building. When it’s necessary to heed a warning, messages sometimes need to be clear and compelling.
God has been known to get the attention of those who don’t want to listen to Him, but often, I think you’ll find that many of those means are unpleasant. In Moses’ time, the Pharaoh of Egypt didn’t listen to God’s command until 10 plagues had passed. (In Jonah’s life, he heard God’s word, but ran away, and spent three days as “fish food”.) After Solomon’s reign, both kings of Israel and Judah endured punishment, de-thronement, and exile.
Consider that God has the means to get your attention without your consent, but it’s much easier to choose to listen to Him in the stillness of your heart, rather than waiting for things to get off-course to the point where you’re about to crash into something (and need an alarm to go off, as it were).
Read Jeremiah 29:10-14 today.
“For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.’
Jeremiah 29:10-14 NASB
If you have the time (that is, if you have the margin in your schedule), read through the first 9 verses of that chapter, too, and see how this message was given to those who were in exile (which was certainly attention-getting). Even in that time of trial (and punishment), God still had a message – and a plan – for these people. Ask God what message He has for you today.
A version of this devotion originally appeared at fcccanton.com, as a Study Guide for the September 22, 2013 message, “Getting Rid of Ambient Noise”.