I don’t know if you have ever talked to someone that claimed they had heard the voice of God. I have heard this claim from numerous people. I have read about it, listened to sermons about it, and even had whole conversations revolving around this experience. I have heard so many different descriptions regarding this Divine voice. Some say it is loud and overpowering. Some claim they have even attempted to cover their ears at the sound. Others claim it was an audible whisper that made the hairs on the back of their neck rise and fall like a refreshing breath after a steep climb. In my case? The voice of the Lord wasn’t a supernatural roar than shook the walls of the bathroom I was standing in. It wasn’t a Divine command that reverberated off of the concrete walls, rather it reverberated, with resounding peace, off of the walls I had built in and around myself. The voice didn’t slap me in the face with conviction, or put fingers in gashes of sins left open and untended to. The voice managed to touch each of my wounds with the care of a concerned Father. It rested over my shoulders and arms like a warm blanket, like the first ray of warming sun after standing outside on a cloudy day. The voice brought in a wave of love that was simultaneously so strong and so gentle. The words given to me ran around my tongue and through my teeth until they willed my mouth to move. The words pushed their way out of my mouth until I whispered them aloud in an empty room, to an audience of myself and the ghosts of mistakes that often inhabit my alone time. And as I whispered the words, unsure and confused in the best way possible, the ghosts seemed shaken, like a television gone static. And in that moment, I didn’t feel torn. I didn’t feel broken. I didn’t feel the need to apologize or cower. I felt loved. I felt complete.
“My people will hurt you. My people will reject you. But I will not. The church may let you down, but I will not.”
Today wasn’t different than any other day. Today I didn’t expect to hear from God. Today I woke up really late and horribly congested. I woke up feeling discouraged as well. And I woke up with a Bible verse already in my mouth: “‘And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. (Luke 11:9)'” This is a Bible verse we had discussed during a morning devotion at camp. Now, I had heard this verse a myriad of times, as it is quite the popular verse, but it had never stuck with me as it did this week. But, it did not stick with me in the way that I wanted it to. It seemed to discourage me. Strange, right? Let me explain.
For as long as I can remember, I have been a “lister” and a “comparer”. These are two bad traits to have together. I love to make lists. I love both the act of writing out a list, and the act of compiling mental lists. Unfortunately, these mental lists usually revolve around the ways that I fall short. I list the ways that I fall short of the grace of God. I list the faults that put miles between me and my Savior. I list the reasons I do not deserve to know God. And these lists begin to feel like itches that I cant scratch; sins that I cannot take back. They keep me up at night and trip me up on my best days. Not only do I enjoy detrimental listing, I also find myself CONSTANTLY making comparisons. I blame this partially on my immense love for metaphors and similes. I enjoy taking two seemingly unrelated things and weaving interesting comparisons and connections. But I also compare myself to others. I use other peoples’ strengths to highlight my weaknesses, and then I let those weakness define myself. I have come to discover how toxic these two traits are to my spiritual wellbeing. How do I draw close to God when I am incessantly racking up mental lists of reasons that I am unfit to know Him? How do I grow spiritually when I use other believers to undercut my growth on a daily basis? And with this constant stream of negative, self-induced doubt, how do I convince myself to keep asking, seeking, knocking? Sometimes, giving up seems like it would be a relief.
On top of my consistent self destruction, my relationships with others suffer greatly. In the spirit of complete honesty and transparency, and in the spirit of shedding light on mental illnesses, I will admit unashamedly that I struggle daily with a personality disorder called Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). This looms in the back of my relationships and coils around connections with surprising strength. This disorder coupled with a naïve mind results in a persistent stream of let-downs. The truth is that people get hurt, and then they hurt others. People get hurt; it happens. And people that call themselves believers, that call themselves part of the church, will hurt you too. I consider myself a believer, and I have hurt others. However, the real shame comes when you begin to let these faults and loses influence the way that you see God and your relationship with Him. The church is the body of Christ, so if part of the body hurts you, God must have neglected you, or hurt you, right? Wrong. If you have a cramp in your foot, you don’t say that there is something wrong with your stomach or your brain, do you? No. So, if a part of the body hurts me, why do I automatically assume the entire body will let me down? Why do I assume that the Head of the body let me down? Today I was reminded that God doesn’t let His people down. God doesn’t hurt His people. God doesn’t make lists of reasons why He cant love me; He just loves me. He always loves me. The body may be sick, but the Head is strong. Our Lord is strong. And His love for us is impenetrable.
Spending an entire summer living in close proximity with other believers is challenging. People are imperfect, myself especially, and we are going to hurt each other and let each other down. But these incidents should not influence the way that you think about and approach your Heavenly Father. He is always looking at me with love and care, and I forget that so often. The past few days, I have been feeling like I am really not good enough to serve along side of believers. I have been living in my weaknesses, instead of thanking God for my strengths. I have been comparing myself to others, and coming up short each time. And in this cycle, I have found it so difficult to keep asking, seeking, knocking. Throughout my time in Honduras this summer, I feel I have been seeking and coming up empty, but I realize I have been feeling empty because I have failed to look past my self doubt and comparisons a single time. I have been seeking the holiest parts of myself instead of inviting God to infiltrate even my darkest parts.
Just last night, I wrote in my journal:
I am seeking, but I can’t feel You. I cannot find You. I am trying to please You, but I feel so unfit to be the person that You want me to be. All I know right now is that I am so distracted. Why can’t it be easy to find you? You’ve loved us and died for us, but I am still so rootbound in this Earth, and in the things of this Earth. I feel very stressed and confused. I need help.
Last night, I was fully convinced that I was unfit to seek and serve. I had defeated myself with my own insecurities. I had let the hurt caused by other believers convince me that God had hurt me as well. And I woke up thing morning to a promise that if I seek continually, I will find. Talk about Divine intervention! How amazing is it that God knows us, and pursues us. Today, I make a new promise that I will continue to ask, seek, knock. I will continue to rejoice in the promises that God has given us. He is faithful to us. I will continue to battle the parts of myself and the parts of the body that attempt to deter me from the presence of the Lord. Today I am imperfect. Today I am a sinner. Today I was filled with doubt. and TODAY GOD LOVES ME. He never stops loving me. I will seek Him still.
Above all, I find it astounding how our Lord knows us. I felt my fragile faith this morning, and approached me with a gentle, comforting voice. He doesn’t get annoyed by my constant straying. He knows me. He knows the saddest parts of me. He knows the parts of me that I choose to hide from the world. He knows my hideous doubt, and He chooses to approach me gently. He chooses to reassure me and pursue me. I deserve to be broken by the roar of His wrath, but He knows me. He breaks me gently, and hold me together afterwards. What a good, good Father.
For weeks now, I have been experiencing a draught of words. I haven’t been able to conjure up another blog post to tell how beautiful Copan is. I haven’t been able to put my experiences into words. I have been empty. I have been seeking within myself. I must start seeking beyond myself. God abilities are beyond my abilities, so why wouldn’t I seek beyond my abilities. Today I will seek. Tomorrow I will seek. I will ask and God will hear me. He will never fail me. His church may hurt me, but He never will. And I’m not saying I won’t be a “lister” or comparer” anymore, because I probably always will be. But I will start listing the promises that God has given to us. I will stat listing the ways that He is faithful to us. And I will start comparing myself to the person that I was before God. I will start comparing life and death. Because I was dead, but praise God I am alive now. God knows that I do not have the strength to defeat my weaknesses and abandon my doubt, but He asks us to allow Him to reside within us and make our weaknesses strengths for His church. God asks for our hearts, God seeks our hearts, God knocks on our hearts. I will decide to let Him in everyday.
So, what does the voice of God sound like? It depends on what you are seeking to hear. God is faithful to what you seek. God knows us. For me, the voice of God sounds like love, reassurance, answered promises, forgiveness. It sounds like talking to your best friend and smiling so big because they know you so well. It sounds like my favorite song on repeat. It sounds like full acceptance. It sounds like every beautiful word that you didn’t know you needed to hear. It sounds like home and like falling in love, and like your favorite person telling you that everything will be okay after an exhausting day. It sounds like seeking and finding.