Good morning, Dear Friends and Church Family,
When you read the book of Acts in the New Testament and study the letters of the apostle Paul, one thing becomes very clear: Whatever those disciples needed to meet what God called them to do, God provided for them.
The proof of that, I’ve discovered, comes only after you’ve lived long enough to test your faith. Some things we believe because they’re reasonable; others can only be proven by experience. Do you want to know if God really provides? The only way to find out is to travel the hard roads of life and then look back. Only then will you discover what the disciples learned: God gives you the strength to bear whatever life demands.
If you look at our website, you’ll find that Imagine Church is an interdenominational church. One of the things we celebrate is the fact that each of us experiences God in a different way. Sometimes Christians need to be careful of imposing upon ourselves a mold designed by someone else. You can’t have a second-hand faith and meet life successfully.
Sometimes you’ll hear people say, “God spoke directly to me,” or “I was baptized a second time by the Holy Spirit,” or “I had a vision, and God told me exactly what to do.” Well, I’ve known devout Christian men and women who serve God faithfully and well who have heard no voices or seen no visions, and they will come to me and ask, “Am I lacking something I’m supposed to have?”
I heard a story once about a mother who sent a note to school with her son. The note said, “Please do not spank my Harold as you do the other children. He is a very sensitive child. If you feel you must punish him, spank the child next to him, and it will frighten Harold into behaving.” Well, she was right about one thing: We do have varying levels of sensitivity.
Let me put it this way: God imparts a message to us in different ways. Some people may hear voices, but I never have. For me, God’s guidance has been in more subtle ways. Sometimes it’s a vague sense of restlessness when I’m at odds with God’s will. Sometimes it’s an inner compulsion that says, “This is what you have to do.” Sometimes, God speaks to me through other people.
But you know what I’ve learned? If you listen with your heart instead of your ears, you can find direction when you don’t know what to do or where to go. I’ve learned not to be bewildered by the conflicting ideas of others. I have learned to listen to God in my own way; and if I really seek God’s will, somehow, I find it.
The early disciples found God’s plan for their lives only when they became willing to follow, no matter where it led. If you can make that same dedication, I can promise you: You’ll never be on the road of life alone. There will always be someone standing in the shadows to lead you on.
“He who, from zone to zone,
Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight,
In the long way that I must tread alone,
Will lead my steps aright.” (-William Cullen Bryant)
May you have a faith supported not just by theory, but by experience,
Bruce Jones, Pastor Imagine Church