So I used to interact with the Lord in a very specific way. I used to be able to sense His presence at various times, especially during worship. I used to be able to hear His voice often; calling me to take action, or speaking encouragement.
Up until I came to Japan, that is.
Since then, the times that I have felt His presence powerfully, or heard his voice clearly have been what the Japanese call “珍しい” (mezurashii). In English: very rarely.
In the beginning it was very hard. I felt like God had been ignoring me.
Like He had left me.
Of course I knew that He hadn’t really left me, but often what you feel and what you know are two very different things.
After an amazing night of prayer and encouragement from my community, something broke. It wasn’t that I could hear Him or feel Him like I used to, but I just didn’t doubt that He was there.
I chose to trust Him, despite whether or not I felt Him.
So things went on like that for the rest of last year, and it was difficult at times, but it was unbelievably beneficial. I was forced to continue pursuing after the Lord without the original incentives that I had sought before.
Recently, Hailey and I had to make a lot of decisions in how we were moving our ministry to the next step. How we were going to shape and develop our community in the way God was moving.
The problem was, I didn’t know exactly where He was moving.
And so I asked. And prayed. And asked some more. And do you know what happened?
Same thing as before. I didn’t hear His voice and I didn’t sense His presence.
That’s when I started getting frustrated.
I understood learning to seek Him regardless of whether I heard His voice or not, but this time I was at a crossroads with our ministry and genuinely needed some guidance as to which road to choose.
A friend of mine that I had explained this frustration of mine to asked me a question. He said “Well, maybe God is allowing you to do what you want to right now. So what is it that you want?”
I thought about it for a second, and honestly, the only answer I could come up with was, “God’s will.”
That is my hope and desire. That is my passion. Doing what the Lord wants me to be doing at all times, at any sacrifice, in any way.
And so still, I was confused. And a little upset.
After a few days I went to talk to my mentor Jef, and what He said to me was so unbelievably simple, yet it freed me from the funk I was in and allowed me to realize something about myself.
He told me that he wasn’t worried about me because he knew that my desire was to do the Lord’s will. That as long as that was my root desire than I would continue to walk the path the Lord had for me, whether I was always aware of it or not.
It was like God was saying that He trusted me.
Not that I was at all independent or even functional without Him, but that He knew my heart and knew that even without instruction I would be drawn to the things that were of Him and resistant to the things that were not.
Two days after that I met with my co-leader Hailey for our weekly ministry discussion. I explained everything that I had been feeling and also about what Jef told me.
Her next words rocked me.
She explained that in the two weeks before that day she had been genuinely surprised at how many times some random advice I had given her mirrored the exact things that the Lord was telling her at that time.
These weren’t all profound, life-changing things. Many were just different ways of viewing day to day stuff. But for some reason or another, I had felt that I should say them.
Then Hailey challenged me with this query: “What if you have been hearing more clearly from God than you ever have? Maybe it’s just so different, or so clear, that you don’t actually recognize that it is Him?”
The thing is, though the Lord is constant, He is also incredibly dynamic in His relationship with us.
He loves speaking to us and I believe He also loves sharing different parts of Himself with us, so that we can understand and know Him better.
Many of us are stuck in a rut. Thinking that the way we interact with God is the only way we will ever hear Him, and we even ignore God when He tries to speak to us in other avenues.
My challenge for you all is to start asking God if He is wanting to open up a new dynamic in your relationship with Him.
If He is wanting to speak to you in a new way.
Are you ready to take your relationship to the next level?