A couple weeks ago I was pondering whether God is watching all the chaos and confusion we are experiencing. I began to see a pattern God follows, beginning with Abraham’s story. This week I began to sense that God may be asking His children a question.
Are you listening? Really listening?
Jesus often said to His followers, “Let him who has ears hear.” My first inclination is, “Duh!” Isn’t that what ears are for? Hearing? But Jesus meant something more. If we are really listening to what He said, then we will begin to act accordingly.
God followers have responded in various ways to the events of the last few years. No judgment of our various responses, but I have begun to wonder if we really heard what He wants. I began to ask Him that question and felt strongly pulled back to a verse we have heard many times. I realized we don’t usually consider the verse that follows.
14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 2 Chronicles 7:14-15 (NIV)
King Solomon had dedicated the new Temple when the LORD gave him these words later that night. Like a caution. Don’t go off all cocky on your own but hear Me well. If you don’t and I have to shut off the rain you desperately need, then remember these words.
What was the LORD saying? And why?
First my understanding of the name LORD is that Yahweh envisions a purpose for my life, for your life, for national “lives.” And the plan or strategy for bringing it about.
There are five IF statements.
IF those who are called by My name. It is more than simply saying I’m a Christian. The LORD had invited all people back into close relationship with Him. His offer of forgiveness and reconciliation extends to “whosoever will.” But we must each accept it and receive it to be in relationship to Him, to be His child. (John 1:12-13) I believe it also applies on a corporate or national level. His name, not my labels.
IF said people humble themselves. Subdue our agendas and desires. Bow our knee. That may require us, in this case, to see our national events from His perspective. What is He trying to accomplish in our lives and in our nation? Is His answer a political one or a spiritual one? I suspect a spiritual one. How do I know if I truly surrendered my agenda and desires to Him? I will see again what God envisions for me, for His body the church, for our nation. We are created for far more than our natural human desires. When we humble ourselves, we will discover how faithful God is to fulfill what He planned and to show us how we accomplish it. He is fully able to do exceedingly and abundantly beyond even our wildest imaginations. (Ephesians 3:20)
IF we pray. Oh how we prayed! But were they prayers that God could hear and respond to? “Pray” here means to judge what I’ve thought or said. How does it compare with what God thinks, sees or says? Am I seeing His big picture or just my limited view of things?
IF we seek His face. Seek His presence. His presence is desperately needed right now. We cannot achieve any change (no matter how we may define change) on our own. A classic example of this is in 2 Chronicles 1:10-12. Solomon did not want riches, honor or the death of his enemies. He realized he desperately needed God’s wisdom in order to do what God had positioned him to do or be as king.
IF we turn from our wicked ways. We are so inclined to define “wicked ways” by our own personal top 10 nasty behaviors. God’s definition is vastly different. “Wicked” comes from a word meaning “to spoil by breaking in pieces, thus making us good for nothing.” Our top 10 list means nothing to God. His definition of sin is missing His purpose or goal for us. Pondering that is pretty humbling!
These statements are followed by a series of THEN statements. If we obediently do those things, then God makes some amazing promises.
God WILL hear. Hear and respond by acting accordingly.
God WILL forgive our sin. Those offenses or habitual patterns that cause us to miss His purpose. We are pardoned. Released from them.
God WILL heal our land. For Israel, it was literal because the land was what God promised them. What has He promised for me to occupy? For you to occupy? What is our national purpose as founding fathers envisioned God’s purpose? God will restore us to spiritual health, make us useful again. Fulfill His purpose in our lives and for our country.
Then He says more.
NOW He can hear us pray. His eyes are open to our needs. His ears hear our heartfelt prayers. Why? Because now we are talking to Him like He has been trying to talk to us.
When we seek His presence, what do we really find? An angry God? I don’t think so.
8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” Genesis 3:8-9 (NIV)
Adam and Eve had failed. They hid from a God they then feared. But God called out, “Where are you?” I think God knew their relationship was damaged and He wanted it restored.
Israelites began worshipping a golden calf idol while they waited for Moses to come back down from the mountain with God’s words for them. God gave them a second copy and then told Moses who He really is: 6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, Exodus 34:6 (NIV)
Jesus modeling who His Father is: 36 When He saw the throngs, He was moved with pity and sympathy for them, because they were bewildered (harassed and distressed and dejected and helpless), like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36 (AMP)
This will be worth it. Let’s accept His invitation to be called by His name, to surrender our own ideas of how this will work and to compare our thoughts and words to His much more valuable thoughts and words, to seek His presence and to turn from our own efforts that really just make us good for nothing.
Are you ready? God will hear and forgive and heal. He is watching. Watching for our response.
Carol Boggess, author and speaker at A Healing Journey
Carol Boggess © 2021
Rivers – A Journey of Restoration From Broken to Breakthrough and God Sees Broken Hearts
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