God’s voice

Overcoming Excuses to Make a Change

One of the joys of starting a New Year is the opportunity it affords to initiate a long overdue and much needed change. It is a season ripe for a breakthrough – that will free us from the inertia of the past while propelling us to possess a preferred future – that will break us free from the old while enabling us to lay hold of the new. That is the essence of what we call turning over a new leaf.

When it comes to finally doing what we have hoped and longed to do, many of us can sound like the lame man laying at the Pool of Bethesda. He had a paralytic condition that hindered him from being able to respond in time to the stirring-of-the-water seasons that periodically came along for his healing. As a result, year after year rolled by with their missed opportunities, and his excuse for his inability to change became his testimony – “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” (John 5:5 NIV).

Excuses abound when desired change is not forthcoming. We easily can become fixated on the things that seem to be holding us back. Not unlike the man stuck at the edge of the pool, just feet away from his breakthrough, most are quick to cling to excuses rather than seriously consider what it will take to overcome them and make the change. Or more precisely, WHO it will take to overcome them and make the change.

When God is Silent

“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry.” Isaiah 55:10 (NLT)

It is difficult to understand why God is sometimes silent. Our routine of daily prayer and bible reading, our weekly attendance at church, our desire to live our lives for His glory all continue unabated and yet God is silent. Why? It seems so contrary to His nature and His love for us as revealed in His Son. Yes the heavens daily declare His glory and the earth shows forth His handiwork, we hear sermons and we read devotionals, all the while listening intently for His still small voice, but in the reverberation of it all, only silence. Why?

One of the most beautiful metaphors in all of scripture, describing how God speaks, is found in the writings of Isaiah the prophet. There God’s thoughts and words, proceeding from His mouth in heaven are likened to rain and snow that fall upon the earth. (Isaiah 55:9-11) The earth, representing the soil of our hearts, immediately receives the rain and absorbs its nourishment. We rejoice in hearing God’s words and anticipate with thankfulness the fruit that it will bear in our lives.

But what then when the seasons change? A growing darkness encroaches upon our days, chilly winds blow in from the north and our cold hearts begin to long for the warm spring and summer rains. But alas it is snow that starts to fall and as it blankets the soil of our hearts, it muffles the still small voice. As a season of dormancy sets in, the snow with its life giving moisture is frozen in time and space. God is silent. It is as if God’s very thoughts and words are sealed in a myriad of intricately beautiful, quiescent crystals.

This picture of God’s voice coming to us in the form of snow affords us a glimpse into the mystery of His silence.

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