Listening wuhen Discouraged
One spring day in 1993, I was so discouraged I didn’t know how I could go on with my work. I prayed with my wife over my anguish and went outside for a long walk, hoping that the physical activity would renew my spirits. It didn’t. I walked back into the house and heard the telephone ringing; the last thing I wanted to do was pick up the telephone. I usually screen my calls by listening to the voice on the other end of the line coming through the answering machine. The voice was that of a woman who was new to the church. She was apologizing for calling at home, but felt there was something I needed to know. Against my normal impulses, I picked up the telephone. She apologized again and said, “I hope you don’t think I’m crazy, but as I was praying this morning you came to mind, along with a Bible reference I did not know. I looked it up and have no idea if it would mean anything to you, but I felt that somehow I would be disobedient to God if I didn’t give it to you.”
She apologized again and then gave me the passage. It was Hebrews 10:35–39. She apologized once more, said good-bye, and hung up. The passage read:
So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.
Need I say that those words were meaningful to me? I have since had them written in calligraphy and framed as a memorial to God’s faithfulness to speak when I needed a word from him and to a woman’s faithfulness to risk in obedience to God, to act on a nudge. Sometimes I wonder in frustration why God doesn’t speak to me. Does God wonder in frustration why it is that he has spoken, and I haven’t listened—because I have been too busy or rationalistic or timid to obey?