After 2 1/2 years of being out of country…48 hours of international travel…two delayed flights and a missed connection…our son Felipe is finally HOME!
He’s been a student the past couple of years, attending a university in his other home—the country of Colombia. It was right before Christmas 2019 when his dad and I watched as long as we could as our son made his way through the MSP airport security line. We waved and blew kisses, and we wondered. But we never dreamt—Covid and 2020 and all the crazy that would launch our boy into semi-adulthood. It’s been a wild ride.
I remember the gist of my mom-words to Felipe as we drove to the airport that December day. If you get in a bind, first call on your FATHER—and then call your dad.
Father, as in the Heavenly One. The One who can actually come to a young man’s rescue when he’s 3000 miles of air travel away from his earthly parents. And I guess I can’t really speak to my son’s prayer life, but I can say for certain Dad received his share of calls.
Honestly, I get it. It’s easy to forget that the God of the Universe is just a whisper away.
A few nights back, I was awake, tossing and turning. Fretting about something specific, trying to think my way through a relationship question. Looping through a repeated scenario, trying to figure things out. When suddenly through my muddled thoughts—I thought of praying. Epiphany solution! Seriously. I think I laughed out loud in my partial sleep. Such sweet relief. I can pray!
And then. The next morning, I was sitting on my east-facing porch, wrapped in my hooded Colombia poncho (a gift from Felipe, a few trips back) and listening to rain pinging off the metal roof—when my answer came. Simple. Clear. Holy Spirit response. I heard Him.
You do not have because you do not ask God… James 4:2
Here’s another epiphany of sorts. Did you know the Hebrew word for “listen” and the word for “obey” are one and the same? (PLEASE don’t stop reading. I know you’re tempted, but what I’m going to tell you next is totally worth it.)
The word is shema, and if you are a Bible nerd or a pastor, you’re maybe familiar. But even if you’re not, you might recognize this:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:4-5
This “shema” recitation is like the pledge of allegiance for Jewish people, to this day.
And hear = listen/obey
They are one and the same.
I beg you. Keep reading.
I was listening to a podcast while I was running yesterday, and this author, Pete Greig, was talking about his book: How to Hear God: A Simple Guide for Normal People. One of his quotes was so amazing, and so totally relevant to this blog post, which I had already started writing, I had to stop and rewind and write the whole thing down in the notes on my iPhone:
“Hearing the voice of God is not a mark of insanity; it’s the mark of true humanity. It is our superpower.”
And then he said this, in reference to every great superhero: “Your life becomes a non-story if you’re not using your superpower.”
Dude! Isn’t that good?
Greig says the whole Bible is a story about how to listen to God. And I’m thinking about The Covenant Story* and all the implications. But I might tweak Greig’s comment ever so slightly:
The Bible is a story about how to listen/obey.
Super quick summary of this superpower story:
God chose to be in relationship with people. He talked to them.
But people failed to listen/obey.
God chose particular people to be his messengers, to talk to the people on his behalf.
But people still failed to listen/obey.
Then God became one of the people as Jesus, who not only taught with words, but with his very life.
But people still failed to listen/obey.
So Jesus demonstrated God’s incredible love for people by dying—and he conquered ALL the things that made it impossible for people to listen/obey.
And then Jesus did something totally unexpected. He sent the Holy Spirit to live permanently with His people, so He could do for us what we could never do for ourselves. He made it actually possible—for the first time ever—for people to really and truly LISTEN/OBEY.
Here are Jesus’ own words, just before he died:
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you…
“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:15-18; 25-26)
Hearing the voice of God is our Holy Spirit superpower. When we shema it transforms our non-story to something entirely epic.
Don’t forget to call your Father!
*The Covenant Story: Trusting the Love of a Faithful God—Coming August 2022!