I love to ride my bike. I grew up and still live on a farm in the country and so I enjoy riding my bicycle on gravel and dirt roads. And there is a difference,by the way my city dweller friends. Most country roads in Iowa are rock (gravel) roads. There are also what are called class B roads, which are dirt, no rock or gravel on them, just good old black, Iowa dirt. Farmers used to use them quite a lot to get from field to field No one lives on these roads and they are shortcut roads the county no longer maintains. These dirt roads are my favorite roads to bike because there is rarely traffic and they are peaceful and quiet. There are several of these roads strung together just north of our farm. At the end of one of these dirt roads next to a blacktop road lived an elderly farmer and his wife and I have known all my life. And they had a dog.
Who was not always friendly and would sometimes bark and run toward me as I rode by. Most days, it was no big deal, I would speed up and he would turn and would run back home. But not this day, instead on this day he grabbed hold of my leg, breaking my skin with his teeth. I tried not to panic and keep peddling while at the same time kicking and yelling at him to go home,hoping against hope the farmer or his wife would hear the fracas and call him off. No such luck, he kept coming at me barking and snapping. I was afraid he was going to knock me down and maul me. And it was right smack dab in the midst of this chaotic, fear filled crazy moment I very clearly heard a still, small voice inside of me say:
“You are going to be alright, I am here with you. Keep peddling.”
And at that very instant the dog turned back and I wasalright, and I kept peddling.
Each one of us have a monologue of words in our minds called thoughts. Unfortunately, most days in my mind it is constant stream of me. However, this day a voice beyond my own interrupted my fear filled thoughts. The voice of truth broke in and spoke into me in the midst of my fear. He’s known for that.
It is not a new phenomenon. “In the beginning was the Word”. God has spoken to us since the beginning of time. He is interested in us and he speaks our language, which makes perfect sense because “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” And because has created you and me in his image he has wired us to know the sound of his voice. “and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Hearing God’s voice is like tuning in clearly to a radio station and tuning out the static. There are times I must admit, I have preferred my self-created static. The prophet Zephaniah was talking about me in 630 BC when he said, “She obeyed not the voice; she received not the correction; she trusted not in the Lord. She drew not near to her God.” Which sounds to me like I have a comprehension and a relationship problem rather than a hearing problem. There is a difference you know. I can hear just fine. It’s listening that is the problem. This not listening is of no benefit to me, because the world is very much like the farmers dog. Most days I can peddle by with little or no trouble. The dog of life might run at me, but would retreat without any serious trouble. And then comes that fateful day. The day of trouble. When life grabs me by the leg with its sharp teeth breaking my skin or spirit, and I am nearly pulled down from the bicycle of my life and slammed to the ground and mauled. Typically, the beast takes one of three forms: disease, death or loss. And loss tends to be material or financial loss or relational loss. Sometimes I am attacked by all three at once and I kick and yell while life keeps barking and snapping at me hoping against hope someone or something will call off this hound of disaster.
Truth is, I won’t hear the still small voice in the midst of the fracas if I don’t recognize or don’t want to hear the still small voice. It simply comes down to a matter of cannot or will not on my part. The God in whose image we are created is a relational God and will be in relationship with us only if we chose to be in relationship with him. I know the sound of my loved one’s voices because I spend time with them. It is no different with God. Even if we are peddling a hundred miles an hour in the wrong direction, he listens to the conversation in our heart and soul and if there is a tiny glimmer of turning toward his light while there is breath in our body, he hounds us down and whispers to us “It’s going to be alright, I am here with you. Keep peddling.” He won’t give up on you, if you don’t give up on him.
The million-dollar question is who and what am I listening to? The voice of God self-revealed to me (and you) in his Word? Or something or someone else? How will I tune out the static of self-deception and lies and tune into grace and truth if I don’t know the sound of the voice of truth? I must never forget the voice of non-truth comes disguised in a pretty package and carries a bull horn. I must remember at all times the enemy was once an angel of light and rarely comes a courting dressed in ugly. But I must never forget my experiences of not listening to him because it always ends with me lying on the roadside a mauled, bloody and hopeless pile of despair. And even if I didn’t listen to the wrong voice, I can still end up there through the choices of others who aren’t listening to the voice of truth. Either way I can’t fix me there in despair and the only remaining options are to get bitter or get grace, from the Word who became flesh.
Could it be God speaks to us best in the midst of our fear, pain and suffering because it is where he has our fullest attention? Could it be he meets us there because he experienced it himself? Just what was God up to in a manger and on a cross anyway?
“And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. “
“It’s going to be alright, I am here with you. Keep peddling.”
Be joy filled always,