Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Your Answer (How to listen?)
If you are seeking your vocation... or even have a question as you live your vocation... then I suppose you know what I mean when I say "I want God to answer me. I want Him to tell me what to do, and soon." When we are seeking answers from God, we often fall into a sad misconception...
I can remember searching for an answer, asking for an answer with all my heart, and then saying "Thy Will be done." I can remember praying to Jesus and asking Him to give me specific instructions, and then saying to myself "If He doesn't answer, I can always do this..." Is it surprising that I did not receive an answer when I asked for help in this way? I showed a severe lack of faith... I didn't even expect an answer, because I "knew" I wouldn't hear it, and I was prepared to figure it out myself.
We all want the sky to break open, a light to shine forth, and God's voice to speak as It did to Saul on the road to Damascus. What we fail to understand is that God expects us to listen with faith. How do you do this? First of all, we all know that God ALWAYS answers our prayers. Sometimes we do not recognize His answers right away, but when we need Him, He is there. When we kneel down to pray, we must expect Him to speak to us... or we are not listening properly. We cannot listen without full faith that there is Someone there Who wants to speak to us.
Secondly, we must recognize that God knows the prayers we truly want to be answered. A person may kneel before Him and say "God, show me my vocation," and listen with faith for the next hour... and leave with patience. This is fitting, for patience must come before the sincere desire to do the Will of God. A woman may kneel in her room and say "what must I do for my child who has gone astray?" She may leave her recollection and prayer with seemingly nothing more than the fortitude to love her child in the midst of his wanderings. God does not force us to do good... He fulfills our simple needs and then gives us the opportunity to show our love for Him through our actions and decisions.
Although I speak of accepting whatever answers God gives you... there is another, far more important reason for listening with faith. Many times, God does speak to us. His whispers in our ears sometimes tell us things we did not expect or want to hear. If we are not listening with faith that He will give us an answer, how are we ever to identify His voice? Rather, one who habitually prays with perfect faith will know when God is whispering to him. He will also have strength in his decision according to the answer, because he knows that God will guide him.
I could finish writing now... but if I did so, I will leave the question many of you are asking unanswered. Because of this, I must specify that faith is not presumption. When I speak of listening with faith of receiving an answer... I do not mean that God is at our beck and call... that we should always expect implicitly that He should obey us. Faith is far deeper than this. Faith is trusting God so far that we know He is guiding and counseling us even when we cannot see anything at all. Faith is trusting that when we come before God in prayer, in need, He never fails us. Faith is trusting that when God gives us one tiny resource, and bids us walk, that He is watching with a smile as we grow closer and closer to Him through our efforts. Faith is to never, not even for a moment, think that we are on our own. Until we have Faith in Him, we can never identify His Voice, no matter how many times we hear it.
Listen with faith, for He always answers your prayer. He is our One Resource, and does not ask that we walk alone.