April 30, 2010

Fur, Voices, and Waves

I heard a very useful message preached last week, about hearing the voice of God. I won't go into all the points that were made, but I want to relate something from Genesis 27 that was said.

In Genesis 27, Isaac is ready to bless Esau because he's nearing the end of his life. Isaac tells him to go and hunt some meat, prepare it, bring it to him, and then he will bless him. Jacob and his mother hatch a plan to get the blessing instead; because Esau was hairy and Jacob soft-skinned, they put animal furs on Jacob's arms to deceive Isaac in case he got suspicious.

When Jacob entered the room where Isaac was, he greeted him. Isaac replies "Yes, my son- who is it?" Right off of the bat, Isaac in unsure who the voice belongs to. After a question about how quickly he hunted and prepared the meat, Isaac asks to feel his arms to confirm it's Esau... even after Jacob already claimed to be Esau once. Then Isaac gives him the blessing.

The next thing Isaac does? He asks again, "Are you really my son Esau?"

When the true Esau came in, Isaac only had to ask who he was once. You think your family has awkward moments?

The point about hearing God's voice in our lives is this: if the action feels right but the voice telling you to do it doesn't sound like God at all (read: telling you to do something unbiblical, sin, or using condemnation to motivate you), it's not God. If you're unsure, go to someone you know has a strong walk with God, and they'll be able to help you figure out what to do with what you're hearing.

A few days after I heard that message, I was in Matthew 6 and came across this passage:

25During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear.

27But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."

28"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."

29"Come," he said.

This illustrates the flip-side of the point I made earlier: Sometimes God talks to you in the middle of a really scary situation, tells you to do something scary, or both together. Again, if you're unsure, check the voice against something objective: the Bible. If it's Biblical and you truly have a desire to do the gutsy thing, my bet is that it's God.

An example from my walk (although a very straightforward one) is my efforts to hike the Appalachian Trail and use that to raise money for clean water wells in communities that don't have them; in these places people will walk miles upon miles for water that kills them. When I got the urge to turn the hike into a fundraiser, I knew immediately it was something I wanted to make happen. Jesus helped the poor, and told us to do the same. He told us to take care of those in disadvantaged situations; with the strong patriarchal society of the time, a widow was one of the most vulnerable members of society. Widows get mentioned a lot.

Thus, the desire put on my heart lined up with things God tells us to do in the Bible (which, by the way, tells us plenty of things to do on its own). I've been taking steps forward in the direction of preparations, and God has provided an on-campus group that just started recently that I can work with to get this done. I have no doubts God is going to go big with this.

Is there something big that's been put on your heart? A fundraiser, a conversation, anything?

Is it scary?

If you step out onto the water, you might be surprised and ecstatic at what happens next.

The sermon that the main point about Genesis 27 was taken from was given by Justin Schoonmaker at Generation Church at Christian Life Center. All credit to God for the effectiveness of the message.

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