Let’s Go for a Drive

Has God ever spoken to you?

Would you recognize His voice if He did?

Some say that God no longer speaks.

Don’t you think it would be terribly difficult to have a living relationship with a God who won’t talk to you?

I believe God does speak. He speaks through scripture. He speaks through the counsel of other brothers and sisters in Christ. I believe He speaks through circumstances – opportunities and closed doors. He speaks through His Spirit working on our consciences, convicting or correcting or comforting. I also believe that what He has to say will always be consistent with scripture. He would never violate or contradict His written word.

A.W. Tozer said: “God is forever seeking to speak Himself out to His creation. He is, by His nature, continuously articulate. He fills the world with His speaking voice.”

Maybe you’re saying to yourself, “Well, God has never spoken to me.” But here’s the question: What have you been trying to hear? For whose benefit have you been listening? Let me suggest that hearing from God begins with a desire to hear for God.

I find that I often go to God with pretty specific expectations. Maybe I want to hear from Him about a particular subject. I’ll be looking through the Bible for a verse somewhere that supports what I already think. Or maybe I’ll go to one person after another asking for advice until someone tells me what I want to hear. I go to God way too often with my own agenda. When I talk to God it’s all about me!

Have you ever stopped to consider the possibility that God may have something specific on His mind that He would like to talk about? Too often I don’t give Him the opportunity because I’m too busy talking about what I want to talk about.

We don’t have a silent God. He is always speaking. We just need to learn how to listen.

I think maybe we need to begin with a different understanding about what prayer and Bible reading is all about.

I know many people who have done some type of reading through the Bible in a year program. I’ve attempted it myself – but I confess I’ve never succeeded. I think this type of Bible reading has its place. It’s like flying across the country in an airliner. You get to your destination in good time – you can look out your window and see some beautiful things even though there are parts of it that are completely clouded over – but you can end up with a general overview and a real appreciation for the vastness of the land.

However, if you’re really interested in what this land is all about, I would suggest something a little slower. Take the time to drive it sometime. Stop and spend the night in a few small towns. Get out and walk around at some particularly interesting spots.

Or, how about prayer? Suppose, for a moment, that you talked to your spouse or a close friend the same way you talk to God. Maybe you start the day by saying something nice to them. You mention how great and awesome this person is and what a privilege it is to know them. Then you start asking them to do things for you. You ask nicely. Maybe it even sounds like a plea. “Dear beloved Spouse, please, if you could find it in your heart to vacuum the floor…if it’s your will.”

What if you then write down a list of all the things you’ve asked your spouse to do, and then checked them off as they are accomplished? Do you think that’s a healthy relationship?

I heard David Roadcup say something once that has stuck with me for many years. He said, “The purpose of prayer is not to get your prayer list accomplished. The purpose of prayer is to get to know God.”

So what I’m suggesting is that we begin to think of Bible reading and prayer as a conversation.

It’s a 2-way conversation between you and God. And as in every conversation, it’s extremely helpful if both parties are talking about the same thing. Sadly, I confess, that most of the time God & I talk only about what I want to discuss. Then I wonder why He seems so distant. Maybe I ought to let Him begin the conversation.

Perhaps prayer should begin with listening instead of talking.

Consider this: reading the Bible is reading God’s mind. It’s not just a book of history, of how God did things in the past. It also tells us how God does things in the present. The scriptures are the primary means we have of hearing God’s voice and discovering His will. The scriptures are the starting points of our conversations with God.

Let me suggest that we start reading scripture for depth, not distance. I believe that if we do this we’ll experience the “transforming of our minds” that Paul refers to – and we’ll better be able to “test and approve what God’s will is”. (Romans 12:1,2)

So let me give you a word picture that will help explain how to do what I’m talking about…

I really enjoy driving. It’s not just the control thing. It’s more the desire to see what’s around the next bend or over the next rise. I love seeking out roads that I’ve never driven before.

Three of my all-time favorite drives have been:

For our 25th wedding anniversary we went to Bar Harbor Maine. We drove a northern route through Lake Placid, New York and crossed Lake Camplain on the ferry at sunset. Then we drove through Vermont & New Hampshire, all on 2-lane roads.

Another was driving the coastal highway along the Pacific. Route 1 – between San Francisco through Monterrey to Big Sur.

One more: driving the “million dollar highway” – Rt. 550 – from Durango to Montrose CO – passing through the mining towns of Silverton and Ouray.

The purpose of those drives had very little to do with arriving at the destination. It was all about what we might encounter along the way.

There are 6 steps to taking this kind of drive…

1. Fill your tank.

You can’t go anywhere if you’re out of gas.

2. Choose your road.

Maybe it’s a road you’ve enjoyed before or a new road you’ve never noticed before.

3. Slow down.

Take in the beauty of your surroundings. Look at the colors, notice the plants and wildlife, feel the breeze, notice the scent in the air. Listen.

4. Pull off the road at a scenic view point.

Stop the car, get out and step into the scene. Look around you.

5. Take a selfie.

How do you look in this setting?

6. Send home a postcard.

Tell the family where you went today. Tell them about the things you saw there.

So, when it comes to reading scripture we should:

1. Fill your tank.

Take a few moments to settle yourself. Ask God’s Spirit to help you hear what God wants you to hear. 1 Corinthians 2:11-12 says: For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.”

2. Choose your road.

Select a passage of scripture. It could be one you’ve read many times, or maybe one you’ve never noticed before. Either way, I’m not suggesting that you just randomly flip through the Bible. Give it a little more thought and prayer than that. Work your way through a specific book or maybe you re-read a passage that was the subject of a sermon or lesson.

3. Slow down.

Take your time. Remember this is not for distance, it’s for depth. If you go too fast you miss too much. What else is going on in the surrounding verses? What does this passage teach you about God? Are you seeing anything you hadn’t seen before? You might even want to turn around and go back to get a closer look at something you read earlier.

Try reading aloud, as if you were trying to communicate the truth of this passage to someone.

Martin Luther said: “I study my Bible as I gather apples. First, I shake the whole tree that the ripest might fall. Then I shake each limb, and when I have shaken each limb, I shake each branch and every twig. Then I look under every leaf.”

4. Pull off the road at a scenic view point.

For an example let’s consider what there is to see in Col. 3:16:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…

Let those words sort of sink in for a moment. What happens when you read them aloud and emphasize different words?

Let – you have a choice

Dwell – not just stop by for a visit or a quick hello, let it take up residence.

After you’ve re-read it several times maybe you could try to re-write the passage in your own words. That is a very helpful technique to use in conversations with people when you want to make sure you really understand what they are trying to communicate. You just say something like, “If I heard you right, I think I heard you say…” Try doing the same thing with scripture. Take the thoughts of the passage and put them in your own words and say back to God, I think this is what I heard you say…

5. Take a selfie.

How do you look in this setting? Reading scripture is often like looking in a mirror. What do you see when you look at yourself in view of this passage of scripture? Is God pointing out some things that maybe He’d like to do some work on, if you’ll allow it?

6. Send home a postcard.

This is your prayer. This is where you tell your Father where you’ve been today; what you’ve seen, and what you’ve learned. This is where you respond to God. He has started the conversation, now you respond. Maybe it’s a confession. Maybe it’s a prayer of thanks. Maybe this passage has caused you to think of another person that you bring up to God in prayer. Or maybe you just respond in a song of praise.

The point of the whole thing is that God is the one leading in prayer. He is directing the conversation. Some days you might not get very far. Other days you may cover a few chapters.

But, I really believe that if you do these things as you go, you’ll find that it will stay with you longer, and that your conversations with God will be way more meaningful than just working through a list of requests.

Try it sometime. I’d love to hear about your experience.

You can use the comments section here or you can email me at Lloyd@lloydrhamilton.com.

Lloyd


I owe these thoughts to Buddy Owens and his little book called The Way of a Worshiper, which I heartily recommend.

 

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