“but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted in water that yields fruit in season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” Psalm 1:2-3 ESV
Recently I enjoyed a devotion that encouraged me to take time to ask God questions and then listen for Him to answer. Over my years of serving Jesus, I have grown to know His voice. One of the first times I did an exercise like this was when I was a student at the Crossroads Discipleship program with Mercy Ships International. We went on a prayer retreat to a state park and the assignment was to ask God specific questions and wait for the answer. I found a picnic table underneath a huge tree. This tree toward along with its friends over the table and the park itself. I asked God a question about my future and His provision for my life, then I laid back on the table, stared up into the sky and waited. As I looked upward, I could see clouds rolling in the blue sky through the branches of the tall tree above me. I waited to hear His voice, but at first all I was hearing were the worries and concerns of my own mind. I knew this voice well. It was the voice of doubt that we often blame on the devil. This wasn’t the devil speaking to me. Instead, it was the thoughts that had consumed my mind before I even asked the question. The things coming to me were shame of past failures, concern of past trials and fear of the future. These were my thoughts trying to give me the answer to my questions. My filter was me.
This is why it is important to wait, listen and allow God’s voice to be heard. Soon I began to see something that said, “Pay attention to me!”. It was the tree towering over me. No, it was not speaking audibly to me. This was God speaking that made it thru the filter of my thoughts and into my inner ear of my spirit. I looked at the tree, studied it and then I heard God ask me a question. “How did this tree get so big?” Before I give you my answer to God, let me first share with you how I heard the question and knew for sure it was God.
Often when we want to hear God’s voice, we need to quiet our own inner conversations. This happened recently when I did my devotion, I referred to earlier when God brought this “Tree” experience back to my memory. I had to filter through what I was saying about my question. The reason I asked the question is because I already had conversations, concerns and yes worry about the topic. It is inner dialogue with yourself that can create a lot of noise and it is usually not a celebration. When I asked the question, my mind began to tell me what it thought. I knew it was mind because of what it was saying. I recognized the lean towards the negative. I practiced what I had learned years ago. I kept silent and waited for the predictable to subside and sure enough it did. It was then I heard God. I recognized the voice. He responded by showing me a filter of my thoughts. Instead of my thoughts being filtered with His Word, they were being filtered with my doubt. He spoke to me to recognize the dirty filter and allow His thoughts to come through and dominate the answer to my question. Then He proceeded to show me the power verse I was studying that morning. It was my answer to my question! He gave me the answer before I asked the question. It was my dirty filter that caused me not to see it right away and hear His voice.
Now back to the state park many years ago. How did that tree get so big? The answer to that question was God’s answer to my question. The tree grew because it stayed where it was planted. It did not worry about missing anything it needed to grow if it stayed still in God. I then remembered Psalm 1 and it became the theme verse of my life, family, and ministry. “Be the Tree!” I do not have to worry about tomorrow if I stay planted in Jesus today. I am like a tree planted by the water that will bear fruit, prosper, and enjoy and meditate on God’s Word that will guide and nourish me. That tree stayed planted, received the rain, the sunshine, and the beauty of where it was planted. But it also stood through the storms, the winters, and the droughts. God took care of it and His answer to my question was that He will take care of me too. He will take care of you!
Go ahead and ask God a question now. Wait and listen. Allow the inner conversation to grow quiet and then get ready. If you find that your thoughts are dominating with the negative, ask Him to clean your filter. Meditate on His Word. Get it in you. Give your fears and doubts to Him every day. Replace them with His promises and before long, your filter will be one of His thoughts and not your own.