I was thinking to myself recently when going through a gut-wrenching challenge in my personal life, that it’s much easier to dope myself up than it is to sit still and listen to the Lord.
What do I mean by that?
Sometimes the solution to the most pressing of life’s difficulties is right there–in His hand, and all we need to do is go get it. Go get it through prayer. Through meditation. Through seeking, Through asking.
But instead, we turn on the TV and channel surf to pass the time that could have been used allowing the chief surgeon to perform a work in our heart.
Instead, we turn on Facebook and chat with people, even well-intentionally for advice. Other times for the distraction it will bring while we procrastinate dealing with the challenge, hoping to outlive it through sheer force of the will.
Sometimes we have a real Kairos moment, and we go through a process much like in the circle below.
The first and healthy thing to do is pause and reflect, and let the Lord speak to us. It can be very easy to bypass that and go straight to discussing it with others.
I’ll be the first to admit it’s really difficult to be completely honest and transparent about some things in our life, but we need to remember that, fortunately, God honors honesty. Coming into the light of God’s presence means we are exposed, but it’s also the place of healing and salvation, for where our hearts are exposed for their brokenness God’s heart is exposed for it’s never-ending love. For some people it’s easier to confess and deal with things with others more than it is to go to the Lord. For others, vice versa.
Sometimes it can be painful to repent of whatever distraction we’re allowing to get int he way, and just let Him in to do a work in our hearts. But it’s nowhere near as painful as the long-term consequences apart from him and going down a path of our own will.
Sometimes we can avoid going to the Lord directly ourselves, and seek ‘prophetic words’ from others instead. Sometimes going to other people for advice, though a good idea, is not what God wants us to do. Sometimes He’s waiting for us to just come to Him. Sometimes going to others for advice is not the solution, but is in fact an inocculation from the Lord Himself.
I’m not saying getting other peoples’ advice is bad, because it can save us from isolating ourselves and coming up with stupid ideas we think the Lord is telling us. Having others to discuss our challenges and problems with can help convert internal breakthroughs into external ones by challenging us to make plans in response to what the Lord may be teaching us. They can help hold us accountable to what the Lord may be teaching us in this kairos moment or experience of our lives. Our friends and mentors can prevent us from making ridiculous decisions.
However, I’m coming to a place where I am convinced this needs to happen after having spent time alone with God. I’m talking about when we go to others instead of, or before we go to the Lord in prayer. This can seem like a good idea, but in fact turn out to be bad. We dope ourselves up with all sorts of “words” from others and advice that we can very possibly clog that channel the Lord wants to speak to us through.
I’ve made decisions on the advice of friends without prayer that I’ve come to regret. Other times I’ve felt the Lord speak clearly to me about something, and the decision(s) so radical, that friends tried talking me out of it because it seemed ridiculous in the natural. I’ve made good and bad decisions in life, and have wished in some cases I listened to people, and in other cases am glad I ignored people and obeyed what God told me.
We can’t be islands in and of ourselves, we need community. But we also need space. We can’t allow community and other peoples’ advice replace the Lord’s still small voice in our lives.