Electronic text alerts, meeting reminders and emails that "ding" are how we live and breathe today — a part of our American culture. But when constant sounds signal "heads-up!" there's opportunity for what's really important to get lost in the mix.
I'm one to ignore them when my focus is on other things — at times, not even hearing the alert. This lack of attention can happen in the spiritual sense, also. That's why author and Bible teacher Priscilla Shirer is passionate about our tuning into the voice of God.
In her study, Discerning the Voice of God: How to Recognize When God Speaks, she guides through biblical and personal examples.
"I hid my growing dissatisfaction with my Bible study and a powerless prayer time," Priscilla reveals about her early Christianity. "I thought this was the way it would always be, until the day God spoke personally and intimately to me."
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That encounter set her on a ministry path — instead of her television broadcast career — where she whets the appetites of others to hunger and experience the presence of God.
Priscilla, a graduate of the Dallas Theological Seminary with a master's degree in biblical studies, is an example of how a life can be changed through a close and intimate walk with God. She advocates setting aside quiet time for scripture reading and prayer, as well as keeping an open heart to what the Holy Spirit wants to teach or direct.
"True blessing isn't just found in hearing God's voice," Priscilla says in the pages of the study guide, "but in heeding it. When we obey, no matter how unusual His instructions may be, we create a solid foundation on which God can display His supernatural activity in our lives."
That's easier said than done, and often our busyness can be the reason we don't hear — really listen — to that quiet voice that nudges us into action. Several years ago, I didn’t listen — even though I heard the “heads up” — nor did I follow God’s direction.
It happened after a classmate of mine had breast cancer, a journey that brought us together after our high school reunion. We emailed frequently as she battled through it, my advice and encouragement helping her on an all-too-familiar path.
In time, she became a survivor in remission. Our emails dwindled in number until only Christmas cards kept us in touch. But one day, I heard quiet words in my heart, “You need to contact Gloria.”
Life was busy — always on deadline. Still, the recurring thought reminded me to take action.
At times, I’d glance at the huge basket of holiday cards to be filed, knowing I should search them for my friend’s email or phone number. A computer glitch had taken my address book.
For a few weeks, the thought to contact Gloria persisted. Then one day it stopped.
Within days, Gloria’s daughter called with the news. Her mother had lost her battle with breast cancer. I was shocked; even though God had repeatedly tried to alert me that time was short.
I can only wonder what words of comfort I might have shared; how a spiritual connection might have encouraged her at the door to eternity.
It’s a memory that reminds me to listen when a “God alert” comes amid the cacophony of a single day.