LAST CHRISTMAS I WAS DISTRACTED AS I OFTEN AM DURING the holidays. Every year I say I’m going to get better about scaling back so I can really keep my focus where it needs to be for the season. I have moments where I do this well. But I have other moments that are just plain pitiful.
Honestly, I can be an utter nincompoop.
I was rushing about, frustrated. I went to Target for wrapping paper and somehow left the store having spent ninety-seven dollars on who knows what. Then got all the way home before I realized I left the wrapping paper on that little shelf underneath the shopping cart. At checkout I didn’t remember to grab it and purchase it. So all my moments of trying to match this and that to keep up with expectations in this Pinterest-crazed world were all for nothing. Now I’d be using recycled bags
I was so caught up in the rush of superficial things in my world that I missed
hearing the cries for help in someone else’s world. God had been prompting me to listen, really listen, to stop and focus and give him just a few minutes. But I refused. I rushed past. And I acted like I was perfectly justified in doing so.
When all of life feels like an urgent rush from one demand to another, we become forgetful. We forget simple things like where we put our car keys or that one crucial ingredient for dinner when we run into the grocery store. But even more disturbing, we forget God. We say with our mouths that we are trusting and relying on God, but are we really?
A quick check to see if this is true is our ability to notice what God wants us
to notice and our willingness to participate when God invites us to
participate. The one who obeys God’s instruction for today will develop a keen awareness of His direction for tomorrow. I’m always asking God for direction, but I’ll miss it if I constantly ignore His instruction.
It’s in those little breaks in our companionship with God where confusion sets in about what we’re really supposed to do. we must not confuse the command to love with the disease to please? Not being able to hear God’s direction is the exact spot where this confusion gets so many of us in trouble.
Have you ever heard that amazing verse from Isaiah “that says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’ ” (30:21)? I love this verse! I want it to be true for me! I want my ears to hear God say,
“This is the way; walk in it.”
I want that with every fiber of my being. Don’t you? Can you imagine how much angst and pain we could save ourselves if we were really that in tune with God?
This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.
You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’
Therefore you will flee!
You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’
Therefore your pursuers will be swift!
A thousand will flee”
At the threat of one;
at the threat of five
you will all flee away,
till you are left
like a flagstaff on a mountaintop,
like a banner on a hill.”
Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the LORD is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him! (30:15–18)
Right here the Amplified Bible adds blessed are those “who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]!” (v. 18). Who doesn’t love that?
You turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you,
saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Then you will desecrate your idols
overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, “Away with you!” (vv. 19–22)
This is how God is speaking to me through these scriptures.
• God asks us to return and rest.
• But we say no and speed on our own course.
(Remember the rush can often make us rebellious.)
• The Lord is gracious and shows us loving-kindness even while we run ourselves
• He hears our cries. He answers with compassion.
• Yes, there are consequences for our refusal to listen, but there’s always a second chance to experience that unbroken companionship when we wait expectantly for Him—or, as the Amplified Bible says, when we look and long for Him.
• So He whispers, “Say hi to her; pick up that cup; have those girls over for
dinner. Look for Me. Long for Me “Experience unbroken companionship with Me.Then we will see and hear Him.
• And these other idols we’re so bent on chasing—anything we prioritize over God—we’ll be able to let them go.
Do I do this perfectly? Obviously not. If we want to hear from the Lord, we must confess that sometimes we walk right past the Lord’s instruction and set ourselves up to miss His direction. If we want His direction for our decisions, the great cravings of our souls must not only be the big moments of assignment. They must also be the seemingly small instructions in the most ordinary of moments when God points His Spirit finger saying, Go there. And in doing that, we are companions of God with eyes and ears more open, more able, more.