Hey, Get the Phone! (It’s for You!)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I’m sure most, if not all, of you know this old story, but I’m going to tell it anyway. (Don’t stop me if you’ve heard it!)

Two old prospectors are arguing over the best way to train a pack mule. The first one maintains that you have to be extra firm with a mule from the beginning–just to let him know who is boss right away.

The other prospector maintains that you have to be gentle to win over a mule; you have to speak to him softly and sweetly. Then, he says, you can get the mule to do anything.

The first prospector doesn’t believe a word of this and asks the second to demonstrate.

The second guy agrees and then picks up a log and hits the mule square on its head.

“What do you mean–be gentle?” the first one asks. “Is slugging him in the head being ‘gentle’?”

“No, sir,” the second prospector replies. “But first, you gotta get his attention!”

Now, my point in telling this story is that it is an analogy for how I’d like for the Lord to speak to me. No, I’m not a masochist. I don’t want the Lord to hit me with a 2×4 across the skull. I just want Him to get my attention and let me know He’s really, really there and He’s really, really speaking to me! Really! Perhaps some of you will be able to identify with me.

A much better example might be the dramatic way God spoke to Moses:

“Moses was shepherding the flock of Jethro, his father–in-law, the priest of Midian. He led the flock to the west end of the wilderness and came to the mountain of God, Horeb. The angel of GOD appeared to him in flames of fire blazing out of the middle of a bush. He looked. The bush was blazing away but it didn’t burn up.

Moses said, ‘What’s going on here? I can’t believe this! Amazing! Why doesn’t the bush burn up?’

GOD saw that he had stopped to look. God called to him from out of the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’

He said, ‘Yes? I’m right here!’

God said, ‘Don’t come any closer. Remove your sandals from your feet. You’re standing on holy ground.’

Then he said, ‘I am the God of your father: The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.’

Moses hid his face, afraid to look at God.” (Exodus 3:1-6 The Message)

(As a side note, I especially love the King James version of Exodus 3:5, where God says to Moses,”Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” The old language in all its majesty seems to fit a God moment like this. Hey, if He spoke to me that way, I would make sure I drew “not nigh hither” and I’d take off my shoes from off my feet in record time!)

And what if God spoke to us like He did on the road to Damascus one day:

“When Saul had almost reached Damascus, a bright light from heaven suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice that said, ‘Saul! Saul! Why are you so cruel to me?’

‘”Who are you?’ Saul asked.

‘I am Jesus,’ the Lord answered. ‘I am the one you are so cruel to. Now get up and go into the city, where you will be told what to do.'” (Acts 9:3-6)

Of course, you must understand that in Saul/Paul’s example, I’d just as soon skip the 3-day blindness part (see Acts 9:8-9), although the 3-day fast might do me some good.

Am I being clear? The point I’m trying to make is that, from time to time, I’d like one of those Cecil B. Demille, Ten Commandments, Charlton Heston/Moses experiences where, “wooo hooo!”, there ain’t no doubt that “God is in the building.”

But then I realize…

First, I’m sure that, like me, if you’ve been a Christian for any length of time you’ve had moments when the hair stood up on the back of your neck; when you’ve gotten “goose bumps”; when the arrangement of events have led you unmistakably to the conclusion that HE HAS SPOKEN. And you didn’t need any wide-screen, Technicolor, or Dolby Digital sound to tell you that!

Secondly, I realize that what I really want is not these 3D/IMAX encounters with God which may come only once in a lifetime if at all but, instead, the regular, intimate relationship with God that Adam and Eve had with Him in the Garden. They lost this close relationship through Sin, but you and I have regained it through the death of Jesus–the second Adam. His death was the sacrifice of the Ultimate Lamb to atone for our condition. His resurrection and ascension to the Father and our receipt of the Holy Spirit was our salvation, and the total reason that God now sees us without blemish. When He looks at us He sees Jesus, and Jesus is our Mediator.

So, if we’ve regained it, why don’t we seem to have it, and how do we possess it?

God gives us the answer: “‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.'” (Jeremiah 3:3 NIV)

God delights in revealing Himself to us, and He promises to answer if we call on Him.

Too simple? The Gospel, or Good News, of Jesus Christ IS simple: God does it all because we can do nothing. My relationship with God, through my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, began with an admission and a request. When I admitted my Sin condition and my total incapability to deal with it on my own; when I expressed my belief in Jesus as my Savior and Mediator; when I accepted Jesus’ death on the cross as full payment for my Sin–past, present and future, I also turned the direction of my life over to my Heavenly Father. It is by grace and grace alone.

And that responsibility, which I cast on Him, also includes the establishment of a truly intimate, moment-by-moment loving relationship with Jesus Christ.

If I don’t have such a relationship, I must ask Him to build it. “Lord, I want to experience You, to walk with You, and talk with You, and HEAR FROM YOU moment-by-moment every day of my life. Lord, as with all things I admit my inability to do this. I ask that You draw me close to You. Make me instantly aware of Your voice when You speak to me. Empower me to practice Your presence wherever I am; whatever I am doing.”

Don’t argue internally about this. Don’t say, “Oh, I’ll try, but…” Just pour out your heart to Him. Persist in this attitude. Don’t try it for awhile. Adopt it as your own. Just as your salvation came after you asked God, you must ask God to do this for you. We couldn’t save ourselves and we cannot live any part of the Christian life by ourselves either. Salvation began with God and our walk with Jesus comes in the same way.

Read John 10. We are the sheep of Jesus the Shepherd. Tell Him, “I am one of Your sheep, Lord. Let me recognize Your voice.”

And when you do, mighty things will begin to happen in your prayer life.

There’s a song by Twila Paris which speaks powerfully about the intimate, sweet times that can happen when we draw away from the crowd and simply ask God, “What do You have to say to me today?”

The song is “When You Speak To Me.”

When You speak to me
When I take the time to listen
There is more than what I think I feel

When You speak to me
When I sit and still the motion
There is nothing left but what is real
There is an answer to every question
The answer is You

And the heavens open when You speak to me
Pouring light into my waiting heart
And the music fills an ocean silently, quietly
When you speak to me

When You speak to me
When You call me and surround me
There is peace to cover any pain

When You speak to me
When You place Your word inside me
I am filled and I am strong again
There is a reason for every longing
The reason is You

And the heavens open when You speak to me
Pouring light into my waiting heart
And the music fills an ocean silently, quietly
When you speak to me

My brothers and sisters in Christ, I know you long to commune with Him–deeply, intimately and regularly. And there is a reason for this longing: Him. God longs to have that relationship with you. When you are there, the heavens will open for you. He will surround you. He will pour light into your waiting heart. And He will place His word inside you. Take the time to listen–to Him, right now.

Love,
Brother Bill

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