Monday, July 1, 2013

Knowing His Voice

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me... My Father, Who gave them to Me, is greater than all, and no one shall be able to pluck them out of My Father's Hand." - Jesus, in John 10:28-30

This morning, I was reminded of how Jesus ministered when He was on Earth. Many people have told me - all of my life - how Jesus went somewhere and "healed them all" and how that's God's will for everyone. That it's within His will for us to pray for someone to be healed, or for a circumstance to be alleviated, or for whatever "negative" thing that person is experiencing to be resolved. 

I'm not so sure.

Oh, I'm not saying that God doesn't hurt when His people hurt. I'm not saying that He doesn't still heal or protect. I know from experience that He does!! 

However, I've been looking at how Jesus operated when He walked the earth, and it's actually a little less like what I've been taught to take for granted in the church. 

Only in a few places did Jesus go into a village and "heal them all" ... and usually only if He wasn't going to stay there for long. If He was going to a major center, like Jerusalem, for example, He would only teach or hang out at the local bar, or go to the temple. Once in a while He'd heal someone. Maybe a few at a time. But not everyone. 

It's like this. Jesus gave up His divine attributes when He came here, and so the miracles that He did, He did by the power of the Holy Spirit. He actually LIVED in the Spirit - and in doing so, He LISTENED to the Spirit. "Turn this corner. Go this way, not that way. Sit at this table, not that one. Heal that person in the corner, not the one begging at the Temple gate." 

Ah. Yes, the beggar at the gate Beautiful, the one who was there every. single. day. Hmm. I wonder how many times Jesus passed that guy and not once did God say to heal him? 

And so ... Jesus didn't. "I do only what the Father tells Me," He said once.

Remember Lazarus? Jesus listened to the Father about him too, so much so that He delayed charging off to the rescue when a message came that Lazarus was sick. Why? Because God told Jesus that it wasn't time to go yet. And when He did say it was time to go, He gave Jesus a word of knowledge that Lazarus was dead. And they were going anyway. 

Photo "Sun Ray Behind Dark Cloud"
courtesy of Sura Nuralpradid at
Here's another thing. At the graveside of Lazarus, who among the people who were there believed Jesus would raise him up that day? Lazarus sure didn't. Mary and Martha believed that if Jesus had only arrived a few days earlier, their brother wouldn't have died. Yet they were deep in grief and didn't believe that Jesus could do anything now. Neither did the mourners around them. There was a total lack of faith at that grave site. And Jesus prayed as God led Him to pray. There was no concert of prayer there. There were no people stretching their hands toward the tomb. There was only Jesus and God - the former obeying what the latter had told Him to do. 

And THEN the miracle happened. 

I think that we get it backwards sometimes. I think we tend to believe that God is all about us doing stuff for Him. Don't get me wrong, I think that doing stuff is great - IF it's God directing us to do it. What I am saying is that we have gotten the cart before the horse, and we don't wait for God to tell us where to go or what to do. We are so busy doing the work of the Lord, one saying goes, that we forget about the Lord of the work!

Jesus spent a LOT of time talking to God. He got His strength, His direction, straight from a moment-by-moment dependence on Him through the Holy Spirit. At every turn, every second, He was listening, attuned to the Father's Voice. 

The most important thing to Jesus personally was the knowledge of the presence of God. It was why He cried out in anguish on the cross, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Not just to fulfill scripture, that was a heart's cry of grief over broken fellowship. 

And on the Final Day, when those who believe they have done so much for Him stand before Him to give an account, telling Him how much they have done "for Him", He will say to them, "Depart from Me, ... I never knew you." 

What? Doesn't God know everyone? What does that mean, "I never knew you"?  The verb "to know" in that passage is talking about the same "knowing" by which Abraham knew his wife, Sarah

Intimacy: there it is again

What He is saying in that passage is this: "You never let Me know you. You never let Me - not My work, but ME - have first place in your heart. You never let me ravish your innermost being, or delight your soul. You were too busy working for Me that I couldn't get close. I was your Employer, not your Lover." 


How long has it been since I've heard His voice, responded to His touch, crawled up into His lap and fallen asleep in His arms? How long since I've taken the time to remember when He rescued me from myself and to lift my gratitude to Him? How long since I've just let Him lavish His love on me? It is in that secret place with Him that I find out what He wants me to do ... and when ... and how.... and when to stop.  It truly is a moment-by-moment thing. 

Knowing Him in that way, in that intimacy, precedes knowing His Voice, recognizing His leading, going and doing and saying what He wants. I suspect that we waste a lot of effort pinging around doing what we think is His will, when what it might really be is to wait until the time is right, or to go in a different direction. Or just to be quiet and let someone work things through on his or her own. 

Being quiet actually sounds like a really good place to start.

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