In this season of Epiphanytide, we rejoice over our Advent hope having been fulfilled, and delight in the revelation that Jesus has been made known to us as the Christ, our long-awaited and much-anticipated Savior and Messiah. Jesus, the Son of God, has been born into our world and now lives among us, participating in everyday life alongside us. Therefore, we are able to experience him in our everyday life–not only in the big, life-changing moments, but also in the small and seemingly mundane. This season Crossings will focus on just that: experiencing Jesus in the day-to-day.
Lately I have been reminded of how poor my prayer life is. For a tenet so central to the Christian faith, I’ve not given prayer its rightful place. The Christian life can feel dry and inactive, and sometimes God seems silent. Amidst my efforts to seek answers to my questions in prayer, I quickly forget that coming into the presence of God also means being sought by Him. This means slowing down to realize that God speaks through the Holy Spirit in diverse ways, and it is all too easy to fill our hearts and minds with distractions. God is persistent, and our posture towards Him matters.
I stand guilty of missing many insights from God on account of my poor spiritual posture. The writer of Lamentations says that “it is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord” (3:26). Waiting quietly takes space, submission, and faith that God will respond to our hearts’ longings.
When the young prophet Samuel awakes to a voice calling his name, he repeatedly believes it to be Eli, the priest. Again and again, he goes to Eli, saying, “You called me,” and Eli rebukes him for his impudence. Finally, Samuel changes his response, his posture, and says, “Speak Lord, your servant hears.”
My Dad once told me that “Sometimes the miraculous is so unsensational that it’s easy to miss.” I imagine Samuel, a young novitiate in the temple service, sheepishly whispering these words, second-guessing his thought that perhaps God is speaking directly to him.
But his sheepishness would be in vain, for God chose Samuel to deliver prophecies of both disaster and hope of a Savior in the coming years. God pursued Samuel, but until Samuel positioned himself as one sought out by the living God, the message was not received.
When I find myself wishing that God would audibly answer my prayers, I am convicted by my selective practice of entering into prayerful conversation with the Lord. How assuming that I would check in only when I need something and then be frustrated with the lack of immediate response. With any relationship, intimacy comes with continued pursuit, openness, vulnerability, giving and receiving. In his eternal covenant relationship, God has promised to uphold his faithfulness to us despite our unfaithfulness.
God speaks to us, his people, people more often than we are willing to listen—when God seeks Adam in the garden, offering a chance to confess his sin, Adam instead shifts blame to Eve (Gen. 3:8-18); when God delivers Israel from Egypt, working wonders to bring them to a new land, they forget God and worship a calf made of gold (Ex. 32); when Jesus reveals the path to eternal life to a wealthy young man, the man goes home sadly to his many possessions (Mk 10:17-22); and though the Pharisees see miracles and hear truth from the Son of God, they plot endlessly to have him murdered (Lk. 11:37-53).
As individuals, we are in constant need of discerning how God would have us live in this world, our vocations, our families, our giving, and honest prayer. Our postures should allow us space to say, “Speak Lord, your servant hears.” By immersing ourselves in the Scriptures, and waiting quietly for the Lord, we can become more attuned to God’s voice, discerning his call in the small moments easily mistaken for the ordinary each and every day.
Nathaniel lives in Beverly and is currently working on his MBA. When he is not singing in the choir, Nathaniel attends the 11am service with his wife, Meridien.