Day 20 – Voices that Confuse & Hearing God’s Voice
As we experience healing in those places where we have been hurt and traumatized, we are able to move into deepening intimacy with God. But even in our healing, one of the ongoing features of the journey is that we stumble and fall along the way. The people of Israel in the wilderness definitely display this reality. When we trip along the way, failing to respond to God’s presence and the way He is leading us, we can retreat and isolate or it can become a place for intimacy and growth.
In the wilderness, the experience of isolation and loneliness is an invitation to intimacy. In Christ, we have an intimacy and closeness to God that is already in our possession. 1 Cor 2:16 tells us that “we have the mind of Christ.” Indeed, it is our inheritance, and yet we often do not move toward that intimacy because of the patterns of isolation we may embrace as a response to our own sin. In the messiness of the desert, our sin and our brokenness are often more apparent and our abilities to distract, hide, or deny are not as available. So, we may isolate and retreat from God in order to go it alone. This, in turn, may lead to further independence in thought, choice, and action. From there, feelings of failure can lead to further isolation … creating a vicious cycle. The voices and questions we often hear in these spaces are get it together, everyone else seems to be doing just fine, what’s wrong with you?, or do you even love God? The space of isolation can feel like too much to bear so we seek to find intimacy and love in things that can’t meet the need.
This can be our pattern and yet God invites us to turn our gaze to Him, to look into His eyes, and perceive His heart … to experience His love. We may have misconceptions about how to approach God or even our worthiness to do so. Because we’ve been shaped by relationships in which we have perceived the need to measure up, perform, or please, we may have transferred these perceptions on to God. In their book When Prayer Becomes Real, John Coe and Kyle Stobel make the observation that “prayer is not a place to be good, but a place to be honest.” God knows where we are, what we’ve done or left undone, and how we are thinking about things. He is not intimidated, repulsed, or any other response that is anything but love. Because of this, we not only can come to Him as we are but we should! Psalm 145:18 reminds us that “The Lord is near to all who call on Him.” Of course, He is always near and always present but our experience of Him as near and our movement toward intimacy only occurs as we turn to Him, call on Him, and seek to look into His eyes. Lord, what do you see? What are you noticing?
The challenge of living in a place of isolation and independence is that we are left with our own thoughts and perceptions. Isaiah 55:8 describes the isolated soul: “for my thoughts are not your thoughts.” Intimacy is to know and be known. The invitation to intimacy is to share and express where we are, and then to listen to God’s heart about where we are. This could seem like a scary proposition, and numbing ourselves or trying to escape the desert may sound safer. The truth is that God does respond in love, He is for us, “there is nothing that can separate us from His love.” (Romans 8:39) Pause here for a moment. Can you believe this about God? Can you believe it? It is incredible. There is nothing (not even my sin) that separates me from His love. We can go even a step further and say that – our sin – can be a connecting point to His love, a place to experience His love. What would it be like, if rather than isolating and going it alone with your sin, you stopped and went to Him?
“If we confess our sins,” we experience the reality that He is faithful in grace toward us. (1 John 1:9) The word confess is a word that means “to say the same thing as” or to share the mind of another. Confess is anintimacy word. How do we say the same thing as God? We listen to Him. The invitation in confession is not to merely say “I know what I did or didn’t do is wrong” but to listen to what God has to say about it – to share in His thoughts. If His approach toward us is in fact love, then He doesn’t beat us over the head with our sin but gives us His wisdom and His insight. He shepherds us. He tenderly walks us forward and holds us close. An intimacy with God like this begins to shape us away from sin and isolation.
Intimacy is about conversation, talking to God about anything and everything … sharing our hearts with Him and asking Him what He sees and what He hears in our lives. We also ask: how are you loving me God in this moment? How are you with me? As every day, real things from our lives are touched by the love of God, His love moves from the theology book into our hearts and minds. Things like sexual immorality are no longer the temptation they once were because His love becomes more powerful. Sexual immorality, or other forms of immorality, are pursued because we have a lack of intimacy. But this a burden that is too heavy for sex, or any other created thing, to carry. The design is for us to experience a depth of love with God that can then give meaning to every part of our life.
Question for reflection: what might shift in the way you interact God? If you haven’t already, pause for a few moments and talk to God about the first thing that comes to you mind. Then, ask Him what He sees and hears in what you are experiencing.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for giving me the mind of Christ so that I might know your thoughts and perspectives on all that I experience. May I draw to close to your heart and listen in all the circumstances of my life. I desire the intimacy that you offer. Amen.