The view I got to take in this past weekend was breathtaking. Spending the weekend on a 54 acre wooded camp with ocean views wasn't much of a hardship. The view from the 80 foot high swing were pretty nice too, though it was hard to enjoy amidst the terror of sitting on a swing 80 feet in the air.
I am talking about the Men's Retreat that myself and some of the guys went on. It was great to be away together, get to know each other deeper, and make some memories. Regular rhythms of life just doesn't give you the opportunity to escape from rooms and shoot arrows and eat like kings and egg each other on to conquer fears in the same way getting away together does.
It was great to learn together and play hours of ping pong and pray for one another. But the most precious moment for me happened away from it all. Somewhere about an hours' walk away from anything. In the dead quiet of the forest in winter. Because that's where God spoke.
Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that is where I heard God speak.
And it made me wonder, are there certain times and places where God is more likely to speak? Or is the issue whether there are certain times and places where we are more likely to slow down and listen well enough to hear his voice?
Whatever the case may be, what I do know is that the words of the Bible prove themselves to be true again and again and again.
"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
- Jeremiah 29:13
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."
- Matthew 7:7
"Come near to God and he will come near to you."
- James 4:8
Jesus told the story in Luke 15 of the Prodigal Son. In it he paints a picture of God as a father who hikes up his robe and runs unshamedly towards the son who had disrespected him and gone astray when the boy decided to return home. The father was waiting with arms wide open for his beloved child to come home and embraced him with great love and celebration. (You can read that beautiful story in the Bible by clicking here.)
God is waiting to meet with you, today. Like a father on a front porch, longing to embrace his prodigal child. Whether its been a few minutes, a few years, or an entire lifetime since you sought him, he is waiting. Arms wide open. He loves you, and wants to be near to you, to speak to you, to comfort you and guide you.
While we often spend time wondering why God won't speak, sometimes we need to flip the question around and ask ourselves; am I really listening?
I have found consistently that when "God isn't speaking" the actual issue is with my listening. If I make the effort to seek out God's voice in his Word the Bible, in prayer, and in silence and solitude...if I confess my sins to him and genuinely seek him, he never fails to show up.
But don't take my word for it. He's the one who made all the bold promises above.
Do you want to be close to God? To feel him near? To hear him speak? To feel the embrace of a loving father who doesn't reprimend you for your rebellious ways but simply holds you and loves you in the midst of your brokeness?
Then let me encourage you to make some space for it. Draw near to him with sincerity of heart. Ask him, seek, knock. Come near to him and see if he doesn't come near to you.
Christmas and warm memories go together like cookies and milk. It's the perfect time to sit around and sip egg nog and reminisce about the good old days.
You know the days when there was an actual fire in the fireplace, not a video of a fireplace with a manly hand occasionally turning the logs on a 50'' plasma screen. The days when you'd drag the kids on a sled through the woods unto you found the perfect tree to cut down. The days when you'd gather around the piano and sing and laugh and it never even crossed your mind to take a picture of yourself having fun because you were too distracted by actually having fun.