Can we listen to God?
Let me share a story of a time when I woke up in the middle of the night and could not go back to sleep. As I tossed and turned, a good friend and Christian brother 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 whether he was he experiencing some health issues, or was 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 learn 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 of the prompting to pray for him the night before was beyond coincidence. Fortunately, a co-worker was present who arranged for emergency transportation to the hospital. He has since recovered and is doing fine.
In Luke’s Gospel, describing the transfiguration of Jesus and the appearance of Moses and Elijah speaking with him, he reports that a cloud covered Peter, James and John who were also present, and God said to them, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” (Luke 9:35)
Peter had been focusing on his delight at being present to witness this miraculous appearance of Moses and Elijah. He makes kind of a silly offer to build shelters for Jesus, Moses and Elijah, as if they were going to hang around physically after having completed their mission of speaking with Jesus.
In almost the form of a rebuke, God lets Peter and the others know that their teacher, Jesus of Nazareth, is his very own son whom he has chosen. He commands them to listen to his Son! This is a command that is applicable not only to the apostles, 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 Holy Spirit. He can speak to us through scripture and other spiritual writings. He can speak to us through others and our life experiences.
With respect to the above story, I can only conclude that the Holy Spirit was bringing my friend to mind and prompting me to intercede on his behalf. I thank God for his grace and mercy, and for the Holy Spirit that led me to listen.
How do you listen to God?