All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. (Ephesians 1:3 NLT)
The main character on the old TV show “Maude” had an expression: “God is going to get you for that.”
It was funny in the way death and taxes and old age jokes are funny, because behind a lot of humour there is a vault of anger and feelings of helplessness. Some people who want to be in the business of speaking for God must be taking Maude more seriously than she took herself, because there are a lot of God-is-gonna-get-you-for-that doom and gloom prophecies abounding on the internet lately. Lots of shoulds with no hows. Given the dire predictions that God is fed up with our behaviour (and voting patterns apparently) and is going to switch from showering us with blessings to dumping nasty judgments on us, I have to stop and ask, Is that God? What does the voice of God actually sound like?
Lately I was totally rattled when I heard the voice of condemnation saying, “You are not good enough… you are a disappointment… you have failed… who do you think you are…”
All those things were factual. I have failed and disappointed people. I had not lived up to even my own standards. I felt shame (more than “I did something wrong,” but “I am something wrong”) and I didn’t know how to fix it. I spiraled down rapidly. I stood on the precipice of depression again.
Then, in His kindness, the Lord brought words of correction into my life through a random podcast and when a page fell out of my journal He reminded me that this part of the journey is about learning to better discern His voice for myself.
“The fruit of the Spirit,” said the speaker, “characterizes the way the Holy Spirit speaks.” I understand that to mean that it’s His fruit, not something I have to conjure up on my own. It is His character. He is love. He is peace. When He speaks He speaks with the voice of love, of kindness, of the reassurance of His faithfulness in seeing me through and does not reject or condemn me. His tone is gentle, kind, patient and peaceful because that’s who He is.
A question: Even if it was firm, was the voice that told you that you are a failure gentle, patient, kind, joyful, inviting you to a deeper relationship? If not, it was not Him. Wrong voice. If God is asking you to change the way you think so that it shows up in your choices He gives you access to His patience and self-control. With every challenge that will help you grow there is a provision set aside – a spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms – that will enable you to change. You need to keep your eyes on Him to access it.
Of course we reap what we sow. That’s a universal principle so obvious that even toddlers get it. Pull the cat’s tail and there is a natural consequence. Act in a self-centered manner and there is a consequence. But the voice of God doesn’t condemn and leave us there. It goes beyond should to how – and the how is all about relationship and drawing closer to Him. His voice shows us how to hit the refresh button, to agree that we have been wrong and want to change the way we think, and to feel the joy of knowing we are forgiven and starting fresh.
Instead of “I am going to get you,” He says, “Don’t worry. I’ve still got you – and I love you very, very much. I will strengthen you and help you. I began this work in you and I will complete it.”