Thursday, March 01, 2018

Subtle Yet Obvious Answers by Eleanor Shepherd

         How true it is that we often do not see the forest for the trees. We are so close to the trees that we are unaware that we are in a forest. There is probably nowhere where we find more abundant evidence that this rings true than in the life of prayer.

            So many times we pray, asking God to show us some answers to our questions or concerns. Then when we open the Bible we see before us the answer that we are seeking. We somehow seem to forget that another name for the Holy Scriptures is the Word of God. So often that is how he speaks to us. Recall some of the occasions when, like me, you have heard His voice in this way.

            I could tell you of many instances. One of the most graphic for us, my husband and I, was when we were trying to discover if the ministry was part of God’s design for our lives. In this case, we prayed and asked the Lord to show us specifically through Scripture if this was His plan for our lives. We should not have been as awestruck as we were when the next morning, Glen opened his Bible to read where he had left off the day before and found these words from I Corinthians 9: 16 - 17 seemed to jump out at him as he read, 16 I don’t have any reason to brag about preaching the good news. Preaching is something God told me to do, and if I don’t do it, I am doomed. 17 If I preach because I want to, I will be paid. But even if I don’t want to, it is still something God has sent me to do.”* 

            When he read these words, Glen called out to me, “Eleanor, I think we have our answer.” As he read the words to me, my response was, “It certainly sounds like it.” Further confirmation came from his breakfast time reading of excerpts from the Scriptures called Living Light. Having been challenged by a friend about making this decision and told that he would probably not respond to such a call because we enjoyed our comfortable lifestyle, the passage that day was more than relevant, with the challenge from Matthew 6: 24, 24 You cannot be the slave of two masters! You will like one more than the other or be more loyal to one than the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”*

            These are obvious ways in which God has spoken to us through the Scriptures. There are also more subtle manners He has communicated with us. It was in reading Psalm 139 that Glen arrived at his conclusions about the subject of abortion. I became convicted that I needed to do something about social justice, to be obedient to God’s plans for my life when I read Micah 6: 8 that says, The Lord God has told us what is right and what he demands: “See that justice is done, let mercy be your first concern, and humbly obey your God.”*

            There have been times when prayers we are unable to utter for ourselves have also received an answer from the Scriptures offered to us by someone else. Such was the case when our son was paralyzed in a car accident in Vermont. The friend who drove us to the airport in France, to take the flight home shared with us that the Lord had given him some words of comfort to offer to us as we rushed to John’s side. He quoted from Isaiah 30: 15, For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”* 

I am not suggesting by this that we should grab any phrase that we like from the Bible and assume it is the answer to our prayer. However I do believe that if in sincerity we ask God to show us His mind on our concerns and then are open to what His Spirit may choose to reveal to us, we will find that the wisdom that He has provided in the handbook that He has provided for us will help us to make good choices.

            One such promise that prompts me to such action occurs many times in the Bible. One of these incidences is in James 1: 5 that says, “If any of you need wisdom, you should ask God, and it will be given to you. God is generous and won’t correct you for asking.”* This is an invitation that I am happy to respond to and I find He keeps His word.

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* Bible translation used is Contemporary English Version
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1 comment:

Peter Black said...

Thank you, Eleanor, for sharing this testimonial. Glen and you surely received clear ministry direction for your lives. The Scriptures you cite have all played a role along my life's pathway and in service to our Lord, and they still do.
What a handsome couple photo - so sharp in your uniforms! ~~+~~

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