When I lived in Idaho, I got the chance to go whitewater rafting a couple of times. Often as we would begin, the river was calm. I would think how boring get to the rapids now! Years later, reflecting on my trips, I realize that the calm may have been on purpose. Many of us on the trips were unskilled at whitewater rafting and though there was an extensive lesson on the banks of the river before we began, it wasn’t until we were on the river that we began to fully learn how to paddle, especially together. The biggest lesson though was learning to listen to the raft’s leader as he would call out directions for each of us to paddle in a certain way. During the calm waters, we learned to hear the leader’s voice and to follow his commands. Once we got to the rapids we had learned to listen and follow, thus making us able to navigate the dangerous waters.
In our Christian lives we to need to learn to listen to God, but how does he communicate. First is by His word. Paul writes in 1 Timothy 3:16, 17, “16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” God’s word is there to instruct us in the way we should live so that when trials and temptations come our way, we might know how to respond and how to remain strong in the faith we have in Christ. The word also helps us to be prepared to do the work of God, so that we are equipped with the grace, faith, and holiness needed to represent Christ and His kingdom. The word is important for our lives and we should be in it.
The second way God speaks to us is through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the one who illuminates the scriptures so that we might be able to understand. Jesus said to His disciples in John 14:26, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” The Holy Spirit instructs us.
Along with instruction, the Holy Spirit also guides our lives. John 16:13 says, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” When we listen, the Holy Spirit reminds us of the Truth we have studied and thus guides our paths when trials and temptations come our way.
So, if this is how God speaks and leads what should we do, learn to listen. We must come to the scriptures with a sense of humility; that is come to be taught. We need learn where in our lives we may need to change to be in God’s truth. We also need to learn to listen for the Holy Spirit’s voice and prompting. Remember the Holy Spirit will never say something that is counter God’s word because He would be counter himself. The Holy Spirit will also not force Himself on us, we need to learn to quiet our hearts and minds to allow ourselves to hear what God might be saying.
Lastly, we need to do what God says. A passage that God has really put on my heart lately comes from James 1:22 that says, “22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” When we read and listen to the Word of God but don’t put it into action, we fool ourselves. We fool ourselves into thinking we are followers, yet we don’t live out of the grace that was given to us. A grace that not only saves us from sin, but delivers us as well.