September 12, 2006

That Voice

2006 1526 page31 cap few weeks ago I was enjoying a few quiet moments before beginning my Sabbath morning getting-ready-for-church routine. As I mentally reviewed my responsibilities for the day I vaguely remembered being asked to call for the offering at the morning worship services weeks before. I never asked for a confirmation, and I never received one.
Several times during the week it occurred to me to call the church office and see if my name was listed in the bulletin, but it was an unusually hectic week, and I never made the call. That morning I couldn’t rest until I found the bulletin on the church’s Web site. At 8:05 I saw my name after the words, “Invitation to Give.” The first worship service would start in just 40 minutes.
Like Clark Kent in a phone booth, I sped up and down the stairs (minus the big red “S” on my chest). I showered and dressed, grabbed the things I needed for Sabbath school, and drove the 10 miles to church (the woman I sleep with would have to come later). The traffic gods were with me; traffic was unusually light—even for a Sabbath morning—and the red lights parted like the Red Sea. I arrived at church looking like I had just walked out of GQ (all right, AARP). I even got there before the organist did.
The rest of that day (and even now) I praised God for rescuing me from the embarrassment of being a no-show. A small thing? To you maybe, but not to me.
2006 1526 page31I could tell you stories about how God has revealed Himself to me, my family, and our friends. Some incidents were monumental and spectacular; some were simple and even whimsical; but they have all been extremely personal.
I revel in them because they reveal a God who is intimately engaged in our lives.
Several years ago we asked readers to share something from the recent past about how they felt led by God. Even though we stressed the words “recent past,” those who responded told about catastrophes averted, conversions experienced, courtships consummated, callings responded to, that happened decades before. Doubtless they were significant, life-changing events. But it’s altogether too tempting to dwell on the warm memories of the distant past than recognize how God reveals Himself to us each and every day.
Nothing’s going to diminish my memories of God’s leading in significant events during my life’s journey. But Jeremiah wrote about God: “His compassions never fail. They are new every morning” (Lam. 3:22, 23).* Why would I be satisfied with God’s leading in my past, when He promised Isaiah, “See, I am doing a new thing!” (Isa. 43:19). If God’s activity in our past was good, what He has planned for our future will be even better.
The challenge is to be alert to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit and recognize His leading in our lives in ways both large and small. We’ve been conditioned to pray for guidance
in matters that are intensely significant: where to go to school, whom to marry, whether to relocate, whether to buy a new house or a car. But that same prayer for guidance should be prayed every day—and often—so that we’ll be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading every day.
A few weeks ago I was visiting one of the places where I volunteer once a week. Greeted by one of the women who coordinates my activity, we performed the usual, “How are you?” “I’m fine” ritual.
Then I observed, “You look tired.”
For the next 10 minutes we talked about situations in her personal life that were bringing her down. I suppose there are other people to whom she can confide and decompress, but that afternoon I was the one who heard about the burdens she was carrying. Our impromptu meeting ended with her asking me to pray for her.
My memories of God’s activity in my life are vivid, even if they occurred 10, 20, or 30 years ago. But the ones I count most precious are the ones that happened this week, this morning.
His promise to us is: “Your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’” (Isa. 30:21).
*Bible texts in this article are quoted from the New International Version.
Stephen Chavez is managing editor of Adventist Review.