23 From there he went up to Beer-sheba. 24 And that very night the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham; do not be afraid, for I am with you and will bless you and make your offspring numerous for my servant Abraham’s sake.” 25 So he built an altar there, called on the name of the Lord, and pitched his tent there.
Where were you when . . . .? Each generation has that question about events in their lifetime. Where were you when Pearl Harbor was bombed? Where were you when JFK was killed? Where were you when MLK was killed? Where were you on 9/11? These are the kinds of dramatic events that we cannot forget, that become part of not just the nation’s story, but our own life stories.
Where were you when God spoke to you for the first time? Or perhaps it is more appropriate to say “Where were you the first time you realized God was speaking to you?” Because I’m pretty sure God was talking to me all the time, back in the day. Saying things like, “Hey, don’t do that!” “What are you, crazy? What on earth makes you think this is a good idea?” You know, that still small voice coming from the back of my mind and being completely ignored. That thing which we call a conscience - I think that’s God talking to us.
But the first time God spoke to me . . . the first time I was aware that it was God speaking to me, I was sitting in a meeting room at St. Lucie County Jail, telling a dozen or so female inmates about 12 Step recovery, and being very careful not to say anything more than “Higher Power” when speaking about God. In the middle of the meeting I heard a voice in my head saying, “You need to be doing this for me.” There was no doubt in my mind but that the voice was God, calling me to the ordained ministry. I thought God was crazy, but I was quite sure it was God.
I do believe that God speaks with us all the time. When “something” tells us to turn our car around and help that homeless woman, or make any unusual detour in our daily activities that will benefit another person, I think that “something” is God. When we suddenly come to believe that we need to make a complete change in what we had planned for our lives - like my call to the ministry in my 40s - I am quite certain that God is speaking to us.
I also believe that we are very good at not hearing that voice, at just brushing it off, thinking we can’t possibly do whatever the voice asked of us. I think we need to listen more closely when that “something” speaks.
O God, whose voice whispers quietly in our hearts, help us to listen. Help us open our ears so that your words can point us in the way you want us to go. Amen.