Yes, God whispers. But although He may not usually speak loudly to us, He will sometimes whisper the same thing to us twice. Or three times. Or three thousand.
Until we finally catch on.
He’s patient that way. And maddeningly polite–where we would like for Him to whack us on the head with an umbrella and shout into our ears the answers to our prayers and explanations for all the other stuff that doesn’t make sense, He instead forces us to focus on Him, to concentrate on discerning His quiet voice through the din and clanging of this world. This is our God, who chose to speak to Elijah in a still small voice instead of a mighty wind, earthquake, or fire (1 Kings 19:12).
I’ll apologize in advance for taking such a meandering path to get to my point today, but writing the previous paragraph reminded me of a very old Swedish man I played chess against a long, long time ago in a place far, far way–sometime in the last century, in fact, in a fabled land known as California. This ancient Swede had lost most of his teeth, and maybe even most of his English words. He spoke animatedly to me during our match. Trouble was, I could hardly make out a word of what he was saying. OK, here’s a confession long overdue: I really didn’t understand anything he said. Not a mumble. I wasn’t convinced he was actually even trying to speak English. So I politely nodded my head and laughed occasionally, trying my best to give the impression that I was fluent in toothless Swedish muttering.
Anyway, here’s the point of that little detour: how often do we politely nod and laugh occasionally to try to give the impression that we are fluent in the whisperings of God?
And, actually, that’s not even my point for today. Here’s where I was going with all this: I think, but I can’t be sure, that God whispered something to me week, and I believe I am supposed to share it here with you.
Last week I wrote about the dark rivers we all have running through our hearts. And try as we may, we can’t seem to vanquish them altogether, due mostly to our fallen nature, and with slimy assists from Satan, who would like nothing more than to knock us off our trajectories toward heaven.
Then this past week, in my journey through the Bible with Brian Hardin and the Daily Audio Bible family, one of the readings included Romans 7. This is the passage where Paul–the Apostle Paul, who wrote at least half of the New Testament–laments about his sinful nature:
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.Apostle Paul in Romans 7:14-25
So what’s the message here? There are 2 key points:
- Although God would never wink and look the other way while we sin, He does remind us here that even someone as great as Paul grappled with the dark river running through his heart. Meaning, even though we should seek His help to turn away from sin, when we do give in to our sinful nature, we should remember to turn to God in confession. And when we do that, we should forgive ourselves because He has forgiven us. But remember, we cannot take this as a carte blanche pass to keep on sinning (Paul talks about this as well).
- Although God would never wink and look the other way while we sin, He does ultimately deliver us from the eternal punishment we deserve by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ our Lord! I know this theme is sort of woven through item #1, but it’s such important great news that it bears repeating on its own.
So that’s it, the good news–the Gospel–boiled down to its core: God loves us so much that He gave us a ticket out of our vicious cycle of sin, at the cost of His own Son. We have only to accept the gift of grace and mercy.
If this offer to save us from ourselves doesn’t convince this ailing world how much God loves us, I don’t know what will.