This afternoon I took off in Houston for a flight to Chicago. The weather has been rainy and miserable for a couple of days and as a child of the sunny South Africa Highveld, that tends to make me sleepy at best, and unhappy at worst. As the plane rose past 10,000 feet, we broke through the thick layer of clouds into bright blue skies and happy sunlight. I pressed my face against the small window, closed my eyes and let the sunbeams warm me; within minutes I felt cheerful again.
It struck me how this is a picture of our connection with God on earth: on this side of eternity the radiance of God’s sunshine is very often hidden by thick clouds, part of what Jesus meant when He said, ‘in this world you will have trouble‘. Man’s sinful nature spews fear, insecurity, guilt, anger, greed and a hundred other ‘pollutions’ into the spiritual atmosphere and, like thick clouds, these dampen the Father’s warming sunlight for men. Our enemy, the ‘ruler of the kingdom of the air’ accumulates and steers these evil clouds to oppress and distress, darkening and crushing hearts.
Quite a depressing picture? Actually no, because our Lord Christ tore apart the clouds, exploding with the ‘radiance of God’s glory’ to shine brilliantly on all those who call on Him for help. By His Spirit, God creates an ‘open Heaven’ for the each of His children every time they reach out to Him in faith to do so. The Holy Spirit carries us, like a Boeing, through the dampening clouds of the world’s heavy atmosphere and into the sunlight and blue skies of God’s Presence, otherwise know as ‘Heaven on Earth’.
This is lesson #1 of how we hear God’s voice, and it is expressed so well in Isaiah 55: 3,8-9 Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live… “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
To hear Him clearly we must stand in the sunlight, and determine only to accept His ‘higher truth’. We must rise above the world’s dark clouds by the Holy Spirit.
When He speaks into our hearts, He does not communicate ‘cloud filtered light’ to us. His words to us are never tinged with fear, not colored with anger, never creating guilt and shame, not sapping our hope and not draining us with heavy burdens. His words bring life, joy, and peace. They spark great and noble thoughts, motivating faith, energizing hope, and fiery passion. His words replace fear with courage, and anger with mercy. His words unlock dreams and exhilarating adventure. They cover a multitude of sins with love and mercy, and cause the weak and fragile heart to say, ‘I am strong’.
This, also, is how we judge prophecy. A lot of the doom and gloom spewed out by so called ‘prophets’ is very little else than drizzling rain from the clouds of negative human thoughts – tapping into the fear and gloom of unredeemed man and putting the phrase ‘thus says the Lord’ in front of it. It doesn’t take faith to judge and condemn, or to predict negative outcomes. Negative outcomes are inevitable if God’s people wont exercise redeeming faith on earth. God’s words are as far away from such rambling as ‘the Heavens are higher than the earth’.
The Father’s living words are life and light to all of His children. To hear we must move beyond the difficult ‘facts of life’ and stretch our faith towards the higher truth of His ways, of Christ’s victory. Of Heaven’s blue skies and sunshine.
Follow the other articles in this series on Hearing God.