Friday, June 14, 2024

Slowing Down to Listen to God

God has really been challenging me to step outside my comfort zone in my relationship with Him. I was recently at a conference, and during the time of reflection after one of the meetings it was clear to me that I had been trying to take my will back from God, and guide my own life. I hadn’t done it completely, but I was starting to want to pull away. I think because it’s been painful lately, the hurts of ministry and of my personal life have made me want to turn away, and turn inward.

God challenged me to simply re-submit my will and life to Him. And let Him be in control. That’s the foundation of helping anyone else, is first going into the heart of God.

I need God to change my heart again and again so that I’m in alignment with His way of thinking. That doesn’t happen naturally. It takes intentionally spending long amounts of time with God.

Long ago when Mother Teresa made plans for her life, she had not been moved by the suffering the children of Calcutta as a reason to go there and serve. Instead she had been so close to the heart of God that she moved in that direction of service instinctually.

It took me slowing down at the conference, stopping everything and just sitting with God, my journal and a Bible, and asking God to speak to me. And then listening. God did speak, and it was powerful.

At the conference God gave me several encounters with other pastors at the conference. There were many opportunities for ministry. And in particular, ministering to pastors that I wouldn’t normally associate with. God does that. He brings people to us that we wouldn’t normally associate with. And when I encountered these people I just tried to listen, treat them with kindness and respect, and do my best to hear their hurts and when God gave me opportunity, I tried to speak a word that could bring inspiration and healing.

I sometimes dread visiting public places and going to conferences because God often brings me into uncomfortable conversations. It’s stressful. I’m an introvert. I just want to sit by the people I know and feel comfortable. Yet God calls me to connect with others again and again that I wouldn’t normally connect with. 

Yet when I think about it, that’s what Jesus did. He didn’t just stay with people who thought like him. He ministered to Samaritans. He ate with tax collectors. He debated with the Pharisees. He spoke to important leaders like Nicodemus. He ministered to gentiles. 

So, I’m learning. I’m a work in progress. The Holy Spirit calls me out of my comfort zone. It’s hard, because I’m already so tired, and exhausted, and I have way too much on my plate. But the Holy Spirit is gentle and helps me in those situations to not feel too overwhelmed.