How does God speak to us? I’ve had an example recently of one way that this happens that I am still learning from. I’ve just been to a conference. There were a lot of people there, about 2,000, it was a long way from home, Redding, California and it had some quite well known Christian leaders speaking at it, Bill Johnson, Brian Houston and Shaun Bolz. So, for all those reasons and many more besides I had quite a sense of excitement at being there.
As I was preparing to be there in all of the usual ways, packing etc., I was also asking the Lord to prepare my heart and spirit. I wanted to be certain that I had my focus right so as not to become distracted by all of the other factors. After all, going to a conference in California has a bit more glamour attached to it than some of the venues that I have been to for other conferences. I shall say no more.
During this time I found that I had become a little ‘fixed’ in 1 Corinthians 2, especially verses 9-10.
‘That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets.’
I kept going back to this short section, rereading it and asking the Lord what he wanted me to understand from it but to be honest, I didn’t feel as though I was making much progress. Added to which, before I left for America there was the small matter of Lizzie and Hamish’s wedding to attend to and that seemed to occupy most of my thinking for the time preceding.
Then, almost before I knew it I was sitting in an auditorium with a lot of very enthusiastic people who all seemed far more awake that I was. In reality it was about 7pm but as far as my body was concerned it was 3am the following morning. Despite the wonderful worship I was not fully ‘with it’ and was still asking what am I here for? The first speaker was Brian Houston, the leader of Hillsongs. As he began he said that he was speaking on, guess what, 1 Corinthians 2 and he began to read verses 9 and 10. Well, let me tell you that the Lord had got my attention. He had it again at the close of the conference when Shaun Bolz also spoke from the same passage.
So what was going on? Why had God highlighted a passage of the Bible to someone from England that would be repeated by someone from Australia whilst both of them were in America? Here’s what I’m noticing. Firstly, nobody should imagine that this is any more special and wonderful than any other way that our Heavenly Father uses to communicate with us. However it happens it is absolutely fantastic and no-one’s situation is more important than any other. In fact, you could argue that it takes something more ‘unusual’ to grab the attention of the likes of me who seem a bit slow of understanding sometimes. Secondly, Jesus was ‘the Word who became flesh’ (John 1) so when we read the written word of God we should remember that it is a true representation of Jesus, who is God, and God is Spirit. So the impact of the words that we read and consider or meditate on are not just having a cerebral impact on us but a spiritual impact as well. The two are somewhat different but both are valid and they need to work together for us to truly comprehend the fullness of what God is saying. Thirdly, the word of God is often likened to a seed by Jesus and seeds take time to grow. We are mistaken if we anticipate that we will always understand things without allowing them time to ‘grow’ in our experience. This is why we need to cultivate patience and perseverance (the good soil) and those qualities do not come quickly. Neither do they come easily, ‘an inheritance gained easily in the beginning will not be blessed in the end.’ (Proverbs 20:21).
So, the days following the conference were punctuated with conversations where I talked with people about my experience of having God communicate to me this way and each time it seemed to open my understanding further. Or I had times alone with the Lord where I gained more insight, more clarity if you like about what He wanted to show me concerning Him and His ways at this particular time.
So what am I saying? I think it’s this; it’s a mystery. What God wants to show us, until He shows it, is a mystery. After we have seen it, the whole thing makes sense and we go, oh, of course, that’s it but until then “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” That is why we need help from Him; that is where faith comes in. So, if the things that the Spirit is communicating to you are not making complete sense yet, don’t despair, it is not you that is at fault. No-one is at fault, it is the nature of the process that you are in as God’s Spirit reveals the deep secrets of the Father’s heart to His children.