This was originally written for a devo for Western Hills Church.
But before we choose to follow God’s will, a crisis must develop in our lives. This happens because we tend to be unresponsive to God’s gentler nudges. .
Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest
The older I get, the smarter my parents get. At one point in my life, I was infinitely smarter than my parents. They were out of touch. Slow. Well-meaning but completely ill-equipped to help me in my complicated life of constant change.
Do you remember as a child – or maybe even as an adult – getting instruction from a coach or a mentor or a parent? And your initial reaction was probably – “Whatever. What do they know?” Of course, more often than not we quickly realize they knew quite a bit.
Experience. She is a brutal teacher.
God will always first speak to us in a gentle whisper. I have a dear friend that calls it “The Nudge.” He’s always telling me – “I’m feeling a Nudge here. Not sure if it is ‘THE Nudge’ but I’m gonna listen to it.” More often than not, he’s right.
The Nudge that says – stop right here and pray for this person. Over the phone, in the hallway, at the cubicle. The Nudge that says – listen first. Just listen. The Nudge that says – trust me in this. Serve. Give. Risk. The Nudge to trust the Scriptures even when it seems impossible. The Nudge to ask about someone’s faith.
There have been times when I’ve missed ‘The Nudge.’ Crisis results. Sometimes it’s a crisis of inconvenience. Sometimes it’s a crisis of regret. We get to see God work and realize we missed out on it and we had a chance to be in the middle of it. That mission trip we thought we could never get time off or money to pay for. That kid that trusts Jesus and we were too busy to listen or coach or teach. Families get help and we weren’t there to be a part of it.
Sometimes it’s a crisis of pain. By missing the nudge, we find ourselves in a situation of a series of ‘no-win’ decisions. A family on the brink of destruction due to unfaithfulness. A young woman realizing she is now a mom. A man consumed by porn or alcohol or some other addiction. A marriage pushed to the breaking point due to finances.
The wild card in all of this is what does crisis do to you? I’ve seen crisis shipwreck people. I’ve seen the anger and despair take over. The clouds come in, the hate and bitterness rise. The blame begins to flow in all directions – up and out. I’ve also seen crisis create a sense of resolve. It clarifies what is important. It can move us very quickly to trust and faith.
This whole series of “You Can’t Talk About That In Church” has hit on subjects that God has already given gentle nudges to us. From sexuality to finances to our freedom in Christ – God’s word has these ‘gentle nudges’ to protect us or to provide.
Are you catching them?
Allow me a couple of suggestions in hearing the ‘gentle nudges.’
1. Get quiet. Turn off the radio. Don’t come home and flip on the TV. Just sit for a few moments and listen. Get still.
2. Get in the Scriptures. It’s not enough to just get quiet, you need to learn (or relearn) what God’s voice sounds like. So start by reading the Scriptures. YouVersion on your smart phone has about a jillion different reading plans you can start with. Even using the verse of the day will be a great starting point. Point is – read the Bible. Learn what God’s voice sounds like.
3. Start obeying with small stuff. You gotta crawl before you can walk. Ask the Spirit, is there anything in my life that you have repeatedly told me to do that I am not doing? Is there anything in my life you have repeatedly told me to NOT do, that I need to stop doing? It can be as simple as getting up 30 minutes earlier to read and pray. It could be quit gossiping, start serving 1 hour on Sunday morning, make it church more than 2 times a month, increase your give, be slower to speak, start praying for your family or leaders.
4. Keep your head. If crisis happens, don’t panic. Stop and ask the question – what does God want me to get out of this? Did I miss a nudge?
Here’s the gospel – you are never too far gone for him to reach you. There is nothing you will ever do that will make him love you less. Repentance can happen anywhere anytime. And since he is always speaking to us, the nudges never stop either.
And that’s good news.