• Amber Albee Swenson

He speaks

The other day I was speaking to an organizer of a women's conference. She asked how I felt about God speaking to us. When I wrote "The Whisper Theory" I wrestled with that question. The title comes from the account of Elijah when he despaired of life and wanted to die. The angel appeared and fed him. That food sustained him for forty days. Finally on the mountain when God came to him, H...e didn't come in an earthquake or in a fire, but in a whisper. "The Whisper Theory" eludes to God coming to us in whispers. People like to look for God in signs and I was hesitant for fear of encouraging that. One place we can always be assured God will speak to us is in His Word. Since Jesus is the Word (John 1:1), when we read the Word we're meeting with Jesus. Scripture doesn't always speak directly to our situation. Sometimes scripture speaks to us about the character and promises of God. Sometimes it reminds us of His love, as He rescues undeserving people from ominous situations or uses the very weakest to fulfill His goals. As anyone who reads the Bible routinely knows, there are other times that God speaks so directly to our situation, it is as if He's pulled up a chair, looked us directly in the eye and speaks. That's what happened to me on Saturday night. In my own nightly devotions I have a set reading schedule, but our family devotions oscillate between a devotion book and reading through a book of the Bible or hitting on something topical when needed. The other night I opened the Bible and started thumbing through it, finally coming to rest at Malachi 3, the section titled, "Robbing God." I was in the middle of an internal struggle. The day before I was at an event and watched as people drove up in their expensive cars. My van didn't seem very nice at the time. Earlier in the day I had to go to a neighborhood where all the houses were big and expensive and had beautifully manicured yards. My house seemed woefully insufficient. Someone asked me to friend them on facebook and when I did I found their life to be much more extravagant than mine. A celebrity dies to the exaltation of the world while a faithful pastor withers to no one's concern. I found myself thinking, wondering, if ministry which demands so much for seemingly so little, is worth it. And God led me to Malachi 3. "You have said, 'It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty? But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper and even those who challenge God escape'" (3:14-15). These words were verbatim to the sinful ramblings swirling through my mind. God's answer: "...the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in His presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored His name. "They will be mine," says the LORD Almighty, "in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not" (3:16-18). I had a hard time finishing the reading. When the God of the universe stops to speak directly to you, well, it gets a little emotional. The Christian life gets hard. We do things differently than the rest of the world. We use our money differently. I remember speaking to a relative one time who said, "I suppose I could afford a trip to Hawaii every year if I didn't give anything to church." The pleasures of this world pull. Temptations to leave the responsibilities and just seek a good time abound. Hold on, God says. It's not over yet. I see you. Keep going. It will be worth it in the end.

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