Listening for God’s direction can be a tricky business. We all know people who boldly proclaim “God told me” or “I heard God say” etc. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I have to wonder when I hear that. How can they be so sure?
It does happen of course. God speaks to us all the time in many ways, so I don’t totally discount such proclamations. But discerning His voice from our own, that’s where we have to be careful. After all, it’s easy to hear what we want to hear and when we want to hear it. My observation is that hearing those things we don’t want to hear, is often more reliable.
But I’ve noticed a curious phenomenon lately. As supply chains are strained, and all indications are that we need to get prepared for possible shortages, there are some who are simply trusting in God to provide. Now ultimately, of course, all good things come from God in His providence, but presuming on that providence can be like the foolish virgins who didn’t bring enough oil to trim their lamps and were ultimately shut out of the wedding feast.
On Long Island in 2012, many were caught up short during Hurricane Sandy. Warned to prepare and in some cases evacuate, many ignored the warnings. The previous year, the media hyped up Hurricane Irene, and many evacuated and prepared and it turned out to be a nothing-burger, leaving so many vulnerable when Sandy hit.
So, it begs the question, do we need to pray and discern and hear directly from God when something is self-evident? When all indications are that supplies may be scarce in the near future, is it virtuous to simply wait on God? If you have the means to prepare, are you obligated to do so, not only for yourself and your family but perhaps to help others who do not have such means?
I think too many are complicating hearing God these days. On the weightier affairs of life, yes, we need to pray, discern, and seek direction. Discerning your vocation or making big changes require time and effort to be sure you’re acting with prudence and upon solid principles. But when it comes to the ordinary, that’s where the basics like the 10 Commandments, Church teachings, and good old-fashioned common sense need to be front and center. If you smell smoke in your house, do you stop, pray, and wait for direction, or do you grab your family and get out?
Think of this analogy: If you’re thirsty, your body is telling you you’re getting dehydrated and you need to drink some water. No need for discernment or prayer on that. Just listen to what your body is telling you. Same for hunger, the need to rest, and sleep etc. Our emotional needs are similar. Feeling irritated or put upon can be an indication of a boundary violation and someone taking advantage of you. Your feelings are important guides to listen to.
All of this should seem obvious, and yet we see so many people who don’t do even these basics to take care of themselves. Busy-ness has become a norm to such an extent that we ignore our basic physical and emotional needs or we over spiritualize things and miss the most basic things.
My point is this, as the world is showing its ugly hand, let’s exercise some good common sense and prudence to prepare to provide for our own needs and those of others entrusted to our care. Like the famous story of the man in the flood who trusted God to take care of him, but refused the two boats and the helicopter God sent to save him, we need to be wise and prudent. To wait on God to tell you specifically what He expects you to figure out based on common sense is presumption.
It’s better to be prepared and not need the extra supplies. You can always donate them to those who do. It’s like carrying an umbrella—sometimes that’s enough to ward off the rain.
Remember, as tough as things may seem right now, God remains firmly in control and this period we’re going through, I believe is ultimately for our good and God will be turning this ship around in miraculous ways. Trusting in His providence means reading and heeding the signs of the times…and knowing that He will bring a greater good from it all.
May God bless you!
- Ep. 202 What Does Busy Actually Mean? - September 13, 2023
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- Ep. 201 Can Hatred Help You Be a Better Christian? - September 6, 2023
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