Once, alone in my car, I followed a “yard sale” sign down a Memphis street. Suddenly, I felt an extreme, inner urgency to “turn around and get out NOW!” Not a soul was in sight, but I obeyed that urge, headed for the nearest major intersection and pulled into a fast food parking lot. I was immediately surrounded by police cars and one officer come over and asked me, “Is there something we can help you with, Ma’am?” I will never know what evil I escaped that day, but clearly my urge to flee was from God. I’m glad I listened.
One of the most common ways God speaks to us is in silence. God speaks quietly, often in simple ways like a sense of inner resistance or a tightening in our tummy. We need to learn to listen to these nudges and obey, if the course is clear, or take at least a few minutes to wait for further instructions.
In many public schools during the controversial, daily “moment of silence,” students play poker, blow bubbles and text in their pockets to one another. With our current technology it is possible to be involved in several conversations at once, by phone, by text, on Facebook chat and face to face, all while watching CNN or FOX for the latest update on the budget crisis and writing a paper that is due tomorrow.
Amidst all this chaos, when we are confronted with a dilemma and feel pressured to take immediate action we may respond impatiently or in anger. We may cave in to alluring temptations or step into clever traps set by manipulative schemers. We need to learn the skill of backing off and breathing a prayer, giving God at least a few minutes to respond! Wouldn’t it be interesting if we could replay our decisions and see how things might have been different if we had just paused briefly to ask for strength and guidance in every situation?
How can we break this pattern of leaping before we look or pray? Whether deciding if it’s wise to get in the car with a new acquaintance, respond to a co-worker’s confidences, or promise to make 12 dozen cupcakes by Wednesday for a charity bake sale, we have the right, we have the responsibility to call a time out to consider the cost or consequences of our actions.
I propose we all deliberately create moments of silence in our crowded days, especially when we are called upon to handle unexpected situations. We experience so many demands to go, to give, to commit or referee, we can quickly get in over our heads if we don’t take time to address these challenges prayerfully.
When we get that tight feeling in our gut and we push past it, we may be walking into trouble. How many times have you ignored that inner resistance or nudge only to later regret it? When we feel that inner “call,” it’s wise to say, “I need a moment, please. Will you excuse me?” and step aside somewhere private to connect with Our Father. “Father, will you show me what to do? Give me wisdom. Do I know this person well enough to get in the car with her? Should I accept this commitment? Should I speak out or avoid confrontation? Give me peace to do it, or help me gracefully evade it.”
Buy yourself some time to think, to pray, to listen. You may be amazed at how much wisdom God can impart in one quiet moment if you just give Him the chance to speak to your heart.
God speaks through His word in the Bible:
“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. Lamentations 3:25-26
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:30 & 31
Wait on the LORD;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD! Psalm 27:14
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