Listening to God is a part of Christianity that seems so weird and foreign to me. I grew up knowing that God was real, but not understanding that you can have a relationship with Him – in fact, that’s all He really wants from you.
When people talk about listening to God’s voice, or how He spoke to them, it often makes me feel like I’ve missed something – a key part to God’s character which is the thing that enables you to listen to His voice. No – that’s just part of the relationship. If God did start talking to me in a booming voice, how would I really respond? Probably not well. In fact it might involve an Ellen shaped hole in the nearest wall or door.
I’ve now learnt that listening to God doesn’t just mean listening for a booming voice, it doesn’t even mean listening for a still, small whisper. It can just mean reading the Bible, listening to songs, or the words of other people. God uses lots of different methods to talk to us.
One method I have learned that He does talk to me is through pictures, or images.
Recently, I have been listening for God’s voice, but not hearing it. Maybe that’s because I’ve not been giving Him time, maybe it’s because I’ve been neglecting our relationship, maybe it’s because I don’t want to hear His answer in case it’s not the answer I want… Who knows…
It started snowing today. I am a person who loves snow. Especially when it starts falling big, fast and in hoards. Which is how it started today. For weeks I’ve been thinking about starting my “it’s a new year, let’s get fit” exercise regime. I thought that this year, instead of applying lots of pressure on myself, I’d go for a simple 20 minute walk every day. Easy to do, nothing required, on my doorstep, easy. Yet, I still hadn’t done it and today is 16th January.
However, today, as I previously mentioned – it snowed! And I love snow (did I mention that already?)! So I donned my boots, wooly hat, gloves, waterproof coat and extra layers and went outside. I hadn’t thought of where to go, but stepping out of the house I decided to turn right. Left takes you to the docks, and I decided in that split second that I didn’t want to go to the familiar option – I wanted to go somewhere new.
(Can you see where this is going – God talking to me on a walk in the snow?!)
So I turned right, and began to walk up the road, I didn’t know how long I’d be out – I figured I’d leave that up to my body temperature, but I walked in the direction of the park. At the top of the road it was quite slippy, the uphill had about a cm of snow coated over it, and I hadn’t worn my boots for nearly a year so couldn’t remember how much grip they had – I may have looked a little like Bambi, but I didn’t fall on my bum, so I consider that a win!
I’m one of these people that typically looks at the ground as I walk, I forget that there is a world around me sometimes. I have to remind myself to look up. As I walked I got to my favourite road in Preston – Egerton Road – and I thought: “Right, God, come on, tell me what to do, now would be good. I’m focussing on You, there’s nothing else to interfere in my mind, so, speak.”
I was still looking at the floor, looking at footprints of the people who had gone on this path before me, and those who had gone the other way. Maybe God wants to talk to me about footprints?
I crossed the road and got to the park, I was pretty cold by this point but thought I hadn’t given God enough time yet, so kept walking. I wanted answers. This path was a little more snowy than the last, and snow kept sticking to my heels as I walked. This got me thinking.
By walking on a path less used, it’s harder to walk. Walking a path untrodden means that you may walk taller, even though it might be uncomfortable. Walking a path that is new means you have to figure out the best way to walk, not just rely on your usual method.
I figured this all out whilst kick-walking the snow off my boots as I meandered round the park path. Very insightful, eh?
I looked back to see how far I had come, and thought to myself it was time to turn back and go home, I couldn’t feel my chin (do you normally feel your chin? Probably not…), so I turned around and headed back the way I had come, satisfied that God had given me something to think over.
Now, as I turned and started back down the path I had come from, I realised something – my footprints were indistinguishable from the rest on the path. As a Christian – a sold out, all in Christian – this surely shouldn’t be the case in life? Our footprints shouldn’t just blend in with everyone else’s? People should be able to tell where we’ve been, where we’ve placed our feet.
Maybe this is the challenge God is giving me – do I want to blend into the crowd and do what everyone else is doing, or do I want to stand out because of Him? Do I want to make a splash to lift His name high? Do I want people to see me, and instantly know that God is working in and through me? Yes, yes, and yes.
I need to leave my mark on this earth, and I am still discovering how exactly to do that, but this I know for sure – I don’t just want to do something for the sake of it. I want to do something because there is a need for God, and I am the person who can fulfil it in His name.
So, still on my search, but happy that God had nudged me in the right direction, I am home, under a blanket with my scarf on, pondering what God will reveal next time I seek to hear His voice, and praying that I don’t leave it so long in future.