How do you listen to God?
After describing the transfiguration of Jesus and the appearance of Moses and Elijah speaking to him in the presence of Peter, James and John, Luke’s Gospel reports that a cloud covered them and a voice came out of the cloud saying, “This is my Son whom I have chosen; listen to him.” (Luke 9:35)
It appears that God was directing his remarks to the three apostles. Peter was focusing on his delight of being present to witness the miraculous appearance of Moses and Elijah. He makes kind of a silly offer to make shelters for Jesus, Moses and Elijah as if they were going to continue to hang around physically after having completed their mission to speak to Jesus.
In almost the form of a rebuke, God lets Peter and the others know that their friend, Jesus of Nazareth, is God’s very own son whom he has chosen. He emphatically commands them to listen to his Son.
This is a command that is applicable not only to the apostles who spent three years with Jesus, but also their successors and followers, including us. Do we listen to Jesus? How do we listen?
There are multiple ways in which Jesus can speak to us. He can do so directly by putting thoughts in our minds through the presence of the Holy Spirit. He can speak to us through our reading of scripture and other spiritual writings. He can speak to us through others.
Let me share a recent experience. In the middle of the night about a week ago, I awoke and could not go back to sleep. As I tossed and turned, a good friend of mine kept coming to mind. At first I just dismissed it as a random thought in my quest to go back to sleep. But thoughts and a picture of him in my mind kept persisting. I wasn’t going to sleep and the thoughts of him were not going away. I started to wonder if something was wrong for him. Was he experiencing some health issues? Was he in physical danger?
I was prompted to start praying for him – if it was a health issue or if he had an accident, I prayed that God would protect him from serious illness or injury and get him the medical care he needed.
The next day I was shocked to receive an e-mail that my friend, who was on a mission trip repairing houses, fell from a ladder that very morning, incurring a concussion and seven cracked ribs. The timing was beyond coincidence. Fortunately, a co-worker was present who arranged for immediate emergency transportation to the hospital. He is now on the road to recovery.
I can only conclude that the Holy Spirit was bringing my friend to mind and prompting me to intercede on his behalf before the accident even occurred. I thank God for his grace and mercy, and for the Holy Spirit that led me to listen.