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Seeds of the Kingdom

Listening to God

by John Berry

The Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me why.
2 Kings 4:6, NIV

Have you heard of the phrase ‘good ideas but not God ideas’? People use this when someone tries to do something which seems a great idea at the time, but is shown after a while to be from their own soulish thinking, rather than inspired by the Lord. It’s very easy for well-meaning believers to try and make things happen, which look like they’re helpful, but which don’t have the power and authority of the Lord behind them.

The story of Elisha and the Shunammite woman’s son is a good example of this. Elisha had been blessed by this lady when he visited the town of Shunem. She was so taken with his charisma that she got her husband to build a room on the roof for Elisha to stay in any time he was passing that way. As a result Elisha prophesied to her that she would have a son in her advancing years. The prophecy was fulfilled, but a few years later the boy died. The Shunammite woman didn’t tell anyone the child was dead, but rushed off on a 20 mile journey to Mount Carmel to see Elisha and ask for help. Mind you, she complained to him first, for building up her hopes with the child!

When Elisha saw the woman coming he discerned that she was in distress, but he didn’t know why, and God hadn’t told him either. Being a compassionate man of God, and a miracle worker too, Elisha sent his servant, Gehazi, to lay Elisha’s staff (a stout wooden pole) on the dead child’s face – a bit bizarre, but then, so is throwing a stick into water to make an axe head float (see chapter 6)!

Gehazi did as he was told, but nothing happened. Not surprising, as God hadn’t told Elisha to do this. It was his own idea – a good idea, not a God idea. Perhaps Elisha had been reading about Moses and Aaron and the staff they used, and thought he would try it? However the story had a happy ending, because later, when Elisha arrived in Shunem, we read that he went into the room, and he asked God what to do. The answer was equally bizarre! He had to lie down on the boy, who had been dead for maybe 2 days, and stretch himself out on the body. He was told to do this twice, and when he did it God’s way the boy was restored to life. Some miracle! But not Elisha’s first choice. His good idea didn’t work, but God’s did.

I find it hard to be in that place of constant listening to what God is saying, and often act out of my own logic based on what I know of God, and what we read in the Scriptures. It’s not wrong to make decisions based on God’s revealed truth – we wouldn’t be where we are today if we hadn’t made a lot of Bible-based choices in our lives. But there are times when we need to wait for God’s revelation to tell us how to deal with particular situations. Good ideas can be OK in many circumstances, especially in dealing with everyday life. But at other times we need to be those who wait on the Lord to tell us what to do next, and then act on it, even if it does seem a bit of a strange way of proceeding.

Prayer: Father God, we’re sorry that there are more times than there should be when we act out of our own soulish logic rather than listening for Your direction in our lives. Sometimes You ask us to wait for Your answers, rather than act impatiently. Please give us listening ears and a patient heart so we can follow Your direction, and bring greater blessing to those we’re in relationship with. Amen.

John Berry entered the Baptist Ministry more than 40 years ago, and joined the Team at Ellel Glyndley Manor in 2007 with his wife Jennie. They have both now retired from the team but remain as part of the Teaching and Associate Ministry Teams at Glyndley. John and Jennie have seven Grandchildren.

 

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