Gentle whispers and burning bushes

Several years ago, I got asked to speak at a church on the topic of giving. Of all people, I don’t know how they could have picked me. I had not made a big gift. I didn’t even give regularly. 

I stressed over what to say. On a good day, I am not a great public speaker. I prefer to talk ad libitum and just be conversational but, sometimes, people want you to stick to a script. I dislike scripts.

I tried to convey a simple message based on 2 Corinthians 9:7. To me, it sums up the true spirit of giving. 

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

My father once told me giving is not about large gestures but about better habits. What he meant was you should develop a habit of giving regularly because you enjoy the act rather than the attention. The joy is not in the size of the gift but in the giving itself. 

We are fed by feeding!

As I was wrapping up, I wanted to encourage people to listen to God and pray asking to be led to a desire to give. I ended with a one liner that just came to me. “God still talks to people but if you walk outside tomorrow and your shrubbery is on fire, go ahead and put that out.” Thankfully, people laughed. I was nervous enough already.

I’ve never spoken on the topic again but, from time to time, I think back on that experience and remind myself that God does still speak to us all.

***

A few years ago, I was asked to interview for a job at a local church. I didn’t have a good feeling about it. Not to be critical but, like a lot of church business, it didn’t appear well thought out. 

I pray a lot in the car. That’s probably a good thing for other drivers. I usually begin each morning with the same line. “Thank you for this day. Help me use it for good,” One morning, as I was giving God my list of things for him to do (I know that is not the best approach), I passed by that church where I had interviewed. Out of my mouth came the strangest line.

“Don’t be enamored of church jobs.”

God doesn’t need grand gestures. He doesn’t need burning bushes or whirlwinds. Sometimes, perhaps usually, he is that feeling in your gut. He is that still small voice and the gentle whisper. 

And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.”

*** 

I don’t know what you are hearing in your life. Maybe you are supposed to spend more time on the porch with your coffee each morning. Maybe you are supposed to work harder at your job. Maybe you are supposed to take that vacation you have been talking about for years. Maybe you are supposed to slow down and stop honking at old people in traffic. I do know that we can all do better things in our own lives. 

Each new day is a decision. My pastor told me he used to put his shoes under his bed at night so he would have to get down on his knees to get them in the morning. It was a reminder to start his day in prayer. You can decide for yourself what you will do with your day. I still try to start mine with the same line.

“Thank you for this day. Help me use it for good.”

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