If we were to ask most Christians; “Have you ever heard the voice of God?”, the response may well be from “Not yet” to “I think I may have” to ” Absolutely!”
In my case, whatever “voice” that I may hear, I had long since credited to the Holy Spirit. “Same thing” you say? Are they not one-in-the-same? God uses many voices. We can also take into account that, more frequently, response comes in the form of changes in circumstances- even mini-occurences that suggest some kind of intervention (other than just plain luck); which is yet another school of thought to which I do not personally subscribe.
I was looking back through some of my journal writings of some five years ago. It brought to mind an experience that I can absolutely say is true; That God did speak to me. I have since tuned in to expect His singular voice and find it with greater frequency.
My journal spoke of my entry into what I believe was a God- inspired ministry to bring Art back into “the church” and to stimulate in-home ministries directed at helping develop those gifts within the congregation. I had assembled a group of twelve (Witness Group) who’s works were to be shown as “Testimony Through Art”. I confess to many a sleepless night trying to construct something that would work . I was struggling since I could find little engagement from within my dozen or so random prospect churches.
One of these nights did come a voice, after what appeared to be a series of one-way conversations with myself. It came, impatiently; “I have laid these stones before you. Walk on them!” How detached from the problem this seemed to be, because there had been no resolution, focus or direction outside our group. I considered things to be really formative.
Convinced, beyond doubt, that it was truly God’s voice, I set about to find some kind of meaning. This led me to Isa; 54/11 which says ” O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest and not comforted, behold I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.”
If it is stones that I must be looking for, it would seem that there must be a way or path: Not one of my invention or construct, but rather one that already existed. One that was ready for the “walking” of it.
I felt that God had been totally dissatisfied with my efforts to develop a plan to make it happen on my own; that He simply wanted me to put on my shoes and start walking in faith. What happened seemed so radical or contrived that it looked like it had been prepared for a “Turn it over to God Seminar”. It was.
The very first response was from the second largest church in the city who, after one brief meeting, said; You bet! We will give you a full time gallery within our church, and they quickly set up the hardware and lighting to show professionally. They were our “Bell Cow”. Their in house, once-a-week on Monday, group meets to this day, and have for the last seven years. This was followed by the largest church in an adjacent city which also set up for permanent display and conducted a gala first -showing with hundreds of visitors.
One by one, ten more churches, large and small, followed with special showings in several Northwest cities. This was followed by United Way’s (supposedly secular) entry into the full-time gallery business in downtown Portland. We remained there for over two years where we introduced over one-hundred professional and emerging artists and their works, many of whom offered spiritual content, to a steady flow of daily visitors.
Aside from being God’s instrument in the whole process ( and hanging a lot of art), I had really nothing to do with what appeared to be an overnight success. The stones were there. I simply walked on them.
We struggle to hear God’s voice…. to find His path, carefully laid. We are often so convinced that we are part of the process of laying the stones, and that ; “God helps those who help themselves”- even to the point of demonstrating our egos, which in fact, stand in the way of His plan and purpose for us.
In truth, all of what we all have accomplished in His name is the direct result of His determination. We are so very blessed to recognize it when the stones are already there; even more when He would implore, as would any caring father; “Quit whining… Get out there!”.
The road is so very often already paved to destinations that we could never get to by ourselves.