Listening to God; May 17, 2021


1 Kings 17:2, 5 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah. So he did what the Lord had told him.

Elijah is remembered as one of the greatest prophets, even though he didn’t leave a book with his name, like Isaiah and Jeremiah. Here we have the secret to his greatness: he listened to God, and then he did what God said, whether it made any sense to him or not. In this particular situation, Elijah had just spoken what would have sounded like a threat to a very unscrupulous king, so he was literally in danger for his life. Escape was a logical move, but where? God’s answer was in one way logical, but in another way absurd. The Kerith Ravine was suitably out of the way and hidden, but the idea that he would have Uber Eats delivered by ravens made no sense at all. However, Elijah listened and obeyed. Frankly, that’s something we have trouble with. In the first place, our minds and hearts are so full of other stuff that we have trouble distinguishing God over the background noise. In the second place, even if we feel we have heard God, we “fact check” Him! Actually, in a way that’s not a bad thing, because there are indeed a lot of lying spirits out there trying to get us off track. I’m reminded of an experience one of our daughters had. A young man she was working with on a Christian project said to her, “God told me to ask you to marry me.” She replied, “That’s fine, but He didn’t tell me to say yes!” It is helpful to consult with mature believers to confirm that we have heard correctly, but ultimately it comes down to being familiar with the Bible, to recognize whether what we are sensing is in harmony with it, and being open to the Holy Spirit, to let Him get past our preconceptions.

This is something I have experienced many times, sometimes consciously and sometimes unconsciously. In seeking to teach others about prayer I emphasize that prayer isn’t a one-way street; we’ve got to be listening to what God says to us, either in reply to what we have said or completely unrelated to it. Sometimes God changes the subject in ways that catch us off guard! I’m never to presume that I always hear God correctly, nor that I am the only one who can hear God. Maybe my daughter learned that from me! I recognize that I am never “worthy” to hear God, but many years of experience, not to mention the Bible, have taught me that He is gracious beyond all measure, and He does talk to His children. I also recognize that how things turn out doesn’t determine whether I heard Him correctly in the first place. We were hearing God tell us to move toward building a senior-care facility next to the church, so we did that. However, many things combined so that didn’t materialize. In the process, however, various people’s hearts were exposed, and we learned more about God’s provision and His faithfulness. I honestly can’t say whether the facility would have been God’s best, but I do know that He was present in what did transpire, and I’m to be at peace with that. I am to keep listening and keep obeying, so that I may be fully useful to Him for His glory.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You also for the privilege of sometimes being a “raven” in supplying the needs of others. May I not try to dictate how You are to use me, but rather keep myself fully available and responsive, so that Your will may be done on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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