I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;Psalm 32:8-9
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you.
These numbers … more than a third of Americans haven’t had a vacation in two years and over half haven’t vacationed in more than a year (these are pre-pandemic numbers). Finances are the reason most often reported. And yet, vacations provide some amazing benefits!
- Vacationing is good for our health.
- Anticipation of the vacation is good for your mental health.
- Vacations improve mental health.
- Vacations can cut your risk for heart attacks.
- The good vibes you bring back from vacation rub off on the people around you.
- Vacationing with your spouse can add excitement, passion and make lasting memories.
Our beach trip, our soul retreat, is both vacation and spiritual retreat. YES to all of the vacation benefits listed above! But there is more to this trip!
One significant goal is to step away from typical responsibilities to examine my heart, to reflect, listen, lean into God’s voice. Have you ever listened to a speaker or singer so intently that you found yourself physically leaning in to get closer to the sound? Your body knows the closer the proximity, the better you can hear and process the message! That’s it! This month, tucked away from our normal routine, I’m “physically” leaning in to hear God’s voice!
But what does that mean … to hear God’s voice?
There’s a time for everything in your life. God alone knows what that is. And because His Spirit dwells within you, and because He is deeply interested in helping you experience the fullness of His plans for your life, you can just stay tuned and know that He’ll make it clear to you right on time, even as He keeps you loved and encouraged by His presence all along the way.Priscilla Shirer, Discerning the Voice of God: How to Recognize When He Speaks
First it means to make a substantial change in routine in order to be still in His presence! We tune our spiritual ears to hear God’s voice when we cease from our busyness long enough to hear!
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”Psalm 46:10a
Second it means submit ourselves in worship to God. This includes allowing the Spirit of God to search our hearts, reveal sin so that we can confess, and honoring God as Lord.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.Romans 12:1
Third, we immerse ourselves in the Word. Depth, breadth, growth come by feeding on God’s word. Read big chunks! More than half of the books of the Bible can be read straight through in less than 2 hours! Read a whole book or at least several chapters! Then spend time pondering, meditating, asking yourself – what does this reading teach me about God? about myself? Write down a few verses from your reading. Note your observations, and how you might apply the scripture to your life.
Creating time, space, and opportunity to hear God is paramount for those of usPriscilla Shirer, Discerning the Voice of God: How to Recognize When He Speaks
who desire to sense His Spirit’s conviction, to receive His detailed guidance,
and to discern His intimate leading.
Last, in our stillness, we must be quiet to hear God. While there are times His nudging, His voice may be fierce, often He speaks in a still small voice. Tell God you want to hear from Him, and then jot down your thoughts. The scripture tells us that His sheep know His voice.
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord,1 Kings 19:11-12
for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and
shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.
And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
Hearing God’s voice is much like our human relationships. Have you accused a spouse or child of selective hearing? I wonder if God says the same about me, about you? God, the Creator of the universe, the Master Designer, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the same God who raised Jesus from the dead and exalted Him to His right hand desires to have an intimate, personal relationship with us! He invites us into His conversation! Oh how I want to lean in to hear every WORD!
Once more we come before our God;
Once more His blessings ask,
O may not duty seem a load,
Nor worship prove a task.
Father, Thy quickening Spirit send,
From heaven in Jesus’ name,
And bid our waiting minds attend,
And put our souls in frame.
May we receive the word we hear
Each in an honest heart;
And keep the precious treasure there,
And never with it part.
To seek Thee all our hearts dispose;J. Hart, 18th century
To each Thy blessings suit,
And let the seed Thy servant sows,
Produce abundant fruit.