Learning to hear God is difficult. I get it. There are 3 other voices competing to distract us from hearing the voice of Jesus; the world, our ‘self’ nature and the devil. With so much competition how can we hear what God is saying, especially when times are rough?
As we began our descent into poverty and homelessness, God began breaking us down. With no friends and little contact with the outside world, He drew us to Himself. God silenced the world. The trouble was our ‘self’ nature began screaming out because of the increased discomfort; it didn’t want to die. Hearing Jesus speak became ever more difficult as the emotional turmoil overwhelmed our thoughts. Somehow we had to get past ‘self’ to hear God.
Early in our walk with God, we had learned how important it was to listen to and obey His voice.
Now I had spent my early years learning to hear His voice and had spent a great amount of time taking long walks to speak with Him. Wanda took her Bible, devotionals, journal and candles and listened to Him speaking through His word. Together we developed a solid foundation for hearing Jesus. None of this, however, helped us in the darkest days of the wilderness.
Listening is critical in our relationship with Jesus. When times are fine listening and obeying God is easy. However, as we mature, we face greater resistance. As the storm clouds of testing gathered, the darkness made hearing His voice increasingly difficult. Our trials demanded new ways of pressing through the darkness to hear him.
When we didn’t know if we would live or die, taking long pleasant walks in the woods or sitting around a candle lit room reading the Bible was not an option. These were luxuries we gave up when we went homeless. Our minds and hearts were locked in a battle for survival. Survival mode often overwhelmed our spiritual awareness until we had acclimated to the trauma. Our focus was solely on the current ordeal. When life became difficult, hearing the voice of God was paramount.
We had to learn how to find His voice amid the raging storm.
There are many books in the Bible, and many chapters. Each chapter is rich in wisdom and has layers of revelation for those who meditate on them. The problem is the volume. Where do we look when we need help? We have read through the Bible many times (and Wanda has it practically memorized) but this worked against us.
In desperate situations it is easy to pick up the Bible and turn to well-known, encouraging verses. The problem is that ‘self’ is so sneaky it can interfere, leading us to what we ‘want’ to hear and away from what we ‘need’ to hear. When things are tough, we may ‘think’ we are reading what God wants us to read but in reality ‘self’ can ‘cherry pick’ Bible verses supporting itself. It is easy for ‘self’ to convince us this is the Holy Spirit’s leading when it is not.
What we needed was a foolproof way to bypass ‘self’ and let God tell us what we needed to hear rather than what we wanted to hear.
Wanda wrote one chapter of a Bible book on a small piece of paper (Genesis 1, Genesis 2, Genesis 3, etc., etc.) until they represented the chapters in the Bible. We took these little pieces of paper and put them in a plastic baggy. You could use a bowl or something else but when you are homeless and likely to get wet, you need to keep the paper dry. Our ‘Scripture bag’ was ready to use.
Every time we were in a precarious spot and needed God’s revelation we started with prayer; asking Him for leading and wisdom. Next we would ask Him to guide us to the direct chapter we needed to read. After this prayer we drew a piece of paper from the bag and read the corresponding Bible chapter. The key was to look for Jesus in the chapter. By placing ourselves and our circumstances in the reading it became a rhema word for the day.
This method eliminated any interference by ‘self’ and allowed God to speak directly through His word. We cannot tell you how many times He surprised us. Sometimes we were very confused and had to press in to learn what God was saying. Either way the Scripture bag helped us on our journey of uncompromising faith
If you have a printer, you should be able to print out this file and create a ‘Scripture bag’ on your own. Remember the ‘Scripture bag’ does not replace a growing conversational relationship with Jesus but it will help when you need Him to address you. This is our little way of providing practical help to our fellow brothers and sisters.
Homer and Wanda