Focus: Knowing the voice of the Lord
John 5:25 (NKJV) Most assuredly, I say to you, a time is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.
Some people have a problem when scripture is used out of context. I don’t. 2 Timothy 3:16-17, says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (NKJV). I believe God approves of any verse in the Bible being used to draw a person closer to righteousness through a spiritual application—as long as the application isn’t in opposition to Godliness.
That said, I’d like to use John 5:25 in a figurative way to help me illustrate an encouraging point for you.
As I’ve already said, wanting to live didn’t come naturally to me. For years, I never said anything about it. Talking about it seemed out of the question. I thought I was the only person who felt this way, and that there was probably no one else who would understand if I did say anything. It was such a private pain. I was always laughing on the outside and crying on the inside. It’s not an easy thing to write about, even now…but I’m going to do it.
Throughout my life I didn’t understand how some people ‘knew where they were going’ and had such an ability to ‘look forward’. Any plans I made—I usually took into account that it was likely I might die before they came to pass. As a child, I truly didn’t expect to grow up. I really didn’t dare to think very far ahead. You can analyze me and try to figure out why—the truth is, it doesn’t really matter anymore. Just today, for the first time, I was actually thanking God about it. I was telling Him how much I now appreciate that I can write about these difficult feelings and understand others who suffer in the same way. If I didn’t know what it was like to not want to live…what would I have to say to someone who is in that battle?
As I look back, I can see that not having a true, personal relationship with the Lord was a big part of the problem. Not having a clue as to why I was alive made it hard for me to want to be here. Nothing about life made any sense to me.
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As a teenager, I began thinking life might start to make sense if I was married. I married at age 19 and again at 21–for the wrong reasons, and became more disillusioned about the meaning of life than ever. Going through divorce was extremely hard emotionally and it’s just a flat out miracle I didn’t die from the pain, alone. Not that I’m grateful to have failed at my first two marriages—but once again, I wouldn’t understand how devastating divorce is—if I hadn’t been through it.
Fear was another big problem. I was afraid of almost everything. I was tired of being afraid and even more tired of not being able to ‘not be afraid’. Fear had me by the throat and I didn’t have a lot of will to fight back. Fear of people, fear of failure, fear of living, fear of the dark, fear of war, fear of poverty, fear of other people dying, fear of the future…almost anything and everything was a reason for me to fear.
Cultivating a will to live was a very slow process for me. So much of my life—I was ‘dead’. Not having a life that is meaningful and purposeful is like being dead. When you live everyday wishing you weren’t alive—it’s like being ‘dead’, in a way. You’re not really living…
John 5:25 says the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. In truth, that scripture refers to the day when the ‘dead in Christ’ will be resurrected. But, for me—it has another meaning, too. It is a deeply emotional meaning. At a time when I was hanging on by a thread—trying to get clean and sober and quit smoking—I started trying to play the guitar as a hobby. One day, it occurred to me that maybe I could take a poem I had written when I was in high school and try making it into a song. It worked!
I wrote a few songs for friends and family and was thinking about writing another song one day—when God spoke to me and said, “When are you going to start writing songs for Me?” That experience stopped me in my tracks. It wasn’t like I was trying to figure out what I could do for God. I was a recovering addict, for sure—but it wasn’t like I was anything close to holy. Hearing the voice of the Lord for the first time caused me to want to live. Opening my heart and mind to hear Him speak to me regularly through His Word, through times of ‘waiting on Him’, and through prayer—gave me something to look forward to. Receiving inspiration from Him put meaning into my life—like nothing ever had. For the first time, I wanted to be in His presence all of the time. I wanted to hear His voice more than anything. ‘Dead’ is what I was before I knew the voice of the Lord…before I was really ‘connected’ to Him. ‘Alive’, is what I became—when I learned to recognize His voice. I know the transformation I experienced is available and possible for anyone. God loves us all the same.
Declaration: I will find new strength as I listen for the voice of the Lord. I will live in constant expectation of fresh inspiration and revelation. I will embrace every day as an opportunity to get to know God better.
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