Chapter II: My Thoughts or God’s Voice
You may wonder why God would take the time to talk with a housewife, the mother of four children, living on a dead-end street in Northeast Atlanta Georgia. I believe it is because He is concerned about everything that concerns His children. God is the Father who cares about the desperate housewife who is learning to hear His voice as well as the child eager to know His ways and His thoughts.
This learning experience was painful but it was a life-changing, character building experience. Often, Christians tell me that God never speaks to them. I believe that God communicates with all His children, but often we don’t understand how He speaks to us so we fail to recognize His voice. Rather than obeying His instruction, we rationalize, analyze and question what has come to us as a thought or strong impression. Is this my thought or God’s thought – or is it from the devil?
In those early, glorious days after a visitation from God, I went to bed each night with great expectancy, eager for the morning. Waking with amazement and wonder I would arise early, make a pot of coffee, and quietly praise God in the words of the Psalmist. Bless the Lord, oh my soul and all that is within me bless His Holy Name! Picturing the mother of Jesus I would say with her: My soul does magnify the Lord and my spirit does rejoice in God my Savior! Every morning, sunshine or rain, was a glorious day – a brand new day! I constantly had a song in my heart!
My perception of God was transformed from seeing Him as a punitive, unloving watchful Eye waiting for me to make a mistake. This hard-to-please God, I thought, was eager to punish hardworking, inept people by sending earthquakes and floods; He could strike a multitude dead with lightening or open up the earth underneath to bury us alive, just waiting for the opportunity to send vipers into our domain. Why be afraid of the bogey-man when we had this kind of God?
But the God who visited me was Unconditional Love Himself. His love toward me was boundless! I saw His love everywhere: in the eyes of my children, in the wind ruffling the leaves of the majestic oak tree outside the picture window of our home. I saw His love in the multitude of books scattered about my house, I heard His love in the voice of a friend, in the cry of the baby – my baby, God’s gift to me. I saw His love in the policeperson on the corner, the store clerk, in the strong bones and protecting care of the mixed Boxer/German Shepherd who commandeered our backyard. God was everywhere and I was experiencing joy unspeakable and full of glory!
In the midst of what had become my daily routine a strong impression that I was to make a bowl of potato salad for a neighbor overrode every emotion, interfering with my joy. My peaceful morning was shattered. Discomfort flooded me and I was distressed. If this thought was from God wouldn’t I have peace? This must be from the devil who wanted to distract me from fellowshipping with my Heavenly Father. A reasonable voice reminded me that everyone makes this dish differently. What if they won’t like it? How could I face their criticism – after all I had just discovered peace that passes all understanding. Why make myself vulnerable to my neighbor and her family?
The turmoil in the battlefield of my mind continued! Why would God ask me to disturb my morning with such a mundane task? After all surely there was a nobler task that I could do for Him? If this was from the devil I certainly wanted to resist him!
Finally I decided to settle this once and for all. I picked up the phone, dialed her number and waited with bated breath. When this mother answered I screwed up my courage and asked: Would you like a bowl of potato salad? She had just finished making the salad! This mother of four had rheumatoid arthritis and the pain in her hands was excruciating.
Even now while writing this I can still feel the shame of questioning such a simple act of kindness. Hanging up the phone I fell on my face and wept bitter tears of sorrow asking for forgiveness. I wanted to know what I was to learn from this experience. It is true that we can’t change ourselves but we can submit to the constant ministry of transformation by the Holy Spirit. My Father wanted me to let go of fear of public opinion and selfishness. He wanted me to share His love in a simple gesture.
Nowhere in the Bible does it say to take a bowl of potato salad to your neighbor. However the Bible says: I give you a new commandment: that you should love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another. By this shall all [men] know that you are My disciples, if you love one another [if you keep on showing love among yourselves]. (John 13:34-15 AMP) You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:31) And Jesus said…in so far as you failed to do it for the least of these, you failed to do it for Me (Matt 25:45) I was emotionally and spiritually devastated because I had failed to show my love for Him by loving my neighbor. The next time I could be the “least” in need of help.
The salvation of the soul is painful at times. My soul was still streaked with selfishness and self-centeredness, and it wasn’t my nature to rush out and offer help to others, but God desired to embroider a servant attitude within my heart. The Apostle Peter said: Like newborn babies you should crave (thirst for, earnestly desire) the pure (unadulterated) spiritual milk, that by it you may be nurtured and grow unto [completed] salvation, since you have [already] tasted the goodness and kindness of the Lord. (I Pet 2:2-3 AMP)
Obviously, I was that newborn that Peter was talking to here. I was on a journey and there was a Voice saying: this is the way, walk ye in it! Even though I was experiencing the love of God, I had not learned what freedom in Christ meant — whoever did want him (Jesus), who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves. (John 1:12 The Message)
“Freedom in Christ produces a healthy independence from peer pressure, people-pleasing, and the bondage of human respect. The tyranny of public opinion can manipulate our lives. What will the neighbors think? What will my friends think? What will people think? The expectation of others can exert a subtle but controlling pressure on our behavior.” (Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel, Multnomah Publishers, Inc., © 1990, 2000, Pg. 146)
Does God speak to His children? I believe that He does! He wants you to experience His love and the freedom of loving others even as He has loved you.
Germaine Copeland is the author of the best selling book series, Prayers That Avail Much. She has written scriptural prayers for the family. Read your Bible, pray and attend church where you can soak up the love and faith of God. You will receive emotional healing, experience spiritual growth and become more intimately acquainted with your Heavenly Father, and your relationships will grow stronger.