Tuesday, May 20, 2014

In The Garden

     I had a rather remarkable God encounter this morning, one that grew out Papa's infinite love and deep desire to communicate with us clearly and consistently. And as I reflected on how clearly and profoundly He spoke to me, I remembered with wonder how I lived so many years of my life with a "silent God" and how afraid of deception I was when I first started hearing Him. I have written in earlier entries about hearing His voice, of course, and about how to avoid deception, so I won't repeat myself. Rather today I simply want to share the wonder of our ever-speaking God and encourage you to be living listening. As I have said many times, I can no longer even conceive of living the Jesus life apart from hearing His voice, nor do I believe that God ever for a moment intended that to be the case. So here's one of my latest stories--given to encourage you in your own hearing, sensing and/or seeing. 
     My story begins with a need for me to be transparent about how I have struggled at times for the past few years (for obvious reasons) to regain childlike trust in my walk with Abba. I recently realized that there is still a block at times between God and me in terms of simple and pure trust. Oh yes, I can trust Him for the eternal things, but because of how my sense of safety in the current age was so violated in 2009-2010, I have been on a rather slow trip back to childlike confidence in Papa. And this morning I found myself more aware of this than on other days and was rather desperately calling out to Him for His help in returning to that childlike state.  
     And oh, how He answered! And I feel His smile as I describe how He answered. After I had written a passion-filled plea to Him about my current state of heart, after I wrote the following summary in my journal, He answered.
     My words to Him: "Yet in all of this I am not discouraged nor do I feel drawn to self-recrimination. Rather I am just drawn to you and deeply aware of your grace and my need for it in a way I have never known before. I think of Psalm 94:17, "Unless the LORD had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death." 
     His answer: He led me to pick up a book I "just happened" to see as I re-organized my office books yesterday: In Search of A Confident Faith by J.P. Moreland and Klaus Issler and go to the end of the book. There (p. 203) I read the remarkable story of a newborn child, Sophya, and her Daddy, Eddie. During her mommy's (Donna) pregnancy, Sophya's daddy had spoken to Sophya and even "touch" her as she was in the womb. In the later months, she would visibly move towards Eddie's hand and voice when he would speak and touch her mommy's tummy. I will let the authors describe the rest.
     "The 30-hour labor was a bit challenging for Donna and Sophya. So, upon her arrival, Sophya was wrapped in a cloth and placed under a heat lamp in the next room. But she cried and cried and cried. Eddie walked over to Sophya, covered her chest and stomach with his hand, and said, 'Hey, Sophya, it's your daddy.' Immediately, she calmed down, resting under his warm hand and familiar voice. She placed her hands around his, curled her feet up around his hand, opened her eyes and smiled! The nurse noticed how quickly Sophya stopped crying and remarked to Eddie, 'You must've talked to her during the pregnancy.' At birth Sophya brought with her an evident level of trust in her dad." 
      As you can imagine, by the time I had read this far in the story, I was already hearing my Abba's voice loudly and clearly, and I was deeply moved. But it was as I kept reading and found the following words just a few sentences later that I knew just how clearly Papa had heard my heart's cry and answered so quickly and unmistakably: "Whether we came into the world like Sophia or not, our heavenly Abba desires to place his warm hand on us, and let his familiar voice reassure us of his love and compassion for us." And I felt His warm hand, and I "saw" His smile, and I was undone.
     And there's an irony for me in this "hearing God" thingy that Papa also told me about today: When I was a child, I used to love to sit at the piano and play and sing a hymn which distinctly describes God's speaking voice and its importance in the Christian life. "In the Garden" by Charles Miles is totally about hearing God's voice. The chorus, as you may know, says, "And He walks with me and talks with me and tells me that I am His very own. And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever know." How ironic it seems that I sang that song for so many years (and many others like it) while living in a silent world! Yet I smile as I also realize how Papa was planting the truth of this so deeply in little Tommy's heart! And I am undone all over again!
     And here's the best part of this story: You can hear Him just as well, just as clearly. Every daughter or son of Abba is "led by the Spirit" (Romans 8:14); every single sheep can hear the Good Shepherd's voice and feel His touch. And I for one am fully convinced that life with God makes absolutely no sense at all apart from a Father who is always speaking, always touching, always affirming even when He finds it necessary to correct us. 
     May you know His voice, His touch today in a way just as remarkable and unmistakeable as my encounter with Him today "In The Garden."

Tom, one of Abba's most grateful children  

And yes, I am writing again. The prayers of many (aided by wearing splints at night) has done wonders for the carpal tunnel thingy. Thank you for your prayers!