I said last time I wrote that I would say a little more about God talking to me, so here goes.
When I say this, I don't mean in the sense that He comes down and says, "Hey, how you doing?" and I respond with jaunty, "Hey, God! Good to see you again!" That would be kind of nifty, but it doesn't work that way. At least not in this life.
The Bible tells us that He will talk to us through visions and dream and a "small, still voice." Once we learn to recognize these for what they are, we can start to understand what He's trying to tell us. It's not always easy and what He tells us isn't always pleasant, but it's usually something that will help us.
I have had dreams that have had such a ring of truth that they stick with me for months, as though they had actually happened. There have been a few recently. I won't discuss them just yet, because even though they happened first, later events help to solidify their significance.
I have spoken before about the vision of Paradise that brought me to Christ and the Church, through a convoluted and difficult journey that still causes heartache.
What I want to talk about briefly is that small still voice. A lot of people call it the conscience, but it's not really that. It's much more complicated than that. It's that voice that tells you to do something out of you sphere of comfort. It's a sense of certainty of the correctness of something, regardless of what common sense and reason may seem to be telling you about that thing. It's an almost literal voice at times that says, "See! That's why I asked you to do that!"
I have an example of the latter.
When I first started going to my church, people would often bring up the subject of Tithing, which is giving a percentage of income to the church to do its work. Though it is commanded in Scripture, the people would speak of it as a Blessing, rather than a Burden, which seemed odd to me. Sometimes it seemed as though they were trying to convince THEMSELVES that it was a blessing. But mostly, it felt like they were talking to me. Trying to convice me that I ought to try it, as though it were some sort of expensive drug that didn't sure anything and didn't get you high. A bargain at any price, hey?
There is a Scriptural verse, Malachi 3:10, where God challenges us to test him; pay the tithe and see if you don't get more than paid back in full. As I continued investigating, I knew I wanted to join the church, but was still skeptical about the whole tithing thing. But, I was willing to give it a go.
Now, our family finances are often shaky, but I put a little aside each pay, waiting until I felt we were up to date on our bills and payday was close and then I gave a check. It wasn't a huge check, in the grand scheme of things, but to me, it was pretty big: the biggest check I'd ever written that wasn't to buy something for myself or my family. It felt good.
Four days later was payday, and four days after that, there was a total of $10 in our joint checking and savings accounts. And no food in the house.
Although we didn't know it at the time, my mother-in-law had sent a nice check to my wife earlier that morning, for reasons that are still unclear.
And the two days later, we received refund checks for overpayments to our retirement systems which we hadn't expected to receive for several more weeks.
Then, the morning after we received those checks, I was going through my "Important Papers Drawer, which I've gone through dozens of times over the last few years, and this time, an envelope of money fell out of the pile. One of my cousins had sent it years ago to help cover expenses after my stroke and in my confused state, I put it in the drawer and forgot about it. But it is amazing that through all those times I've been through that drawer it should have been right there on top when I needed it most.
But the kicker is this: The envelope contained the exact amount of my tithing check.
I felt an almost physical sense of "SEE!!" and was broght nearly to my knees.
God had spoken to me.
When we give God what he asks of us, he will, as Scripture says, give us far more than we give him. Far more than we are CAPABLE of giving him, even if we give him everything we are and do.
That is the small, still voice, though it isn't always so dramatic.
That Sunday in church, I shared my experience and far from being amazed, people were happy for me, as though NOW I was REALLY a member. When I remarked that that sort of thing doesn't generally happen to me, they told me to be ready for it to happen all the time.
In addition, the I had an understanding that I should go farther; to realize that money/time isn't the only thing that Heavenly Father will repay in kind, that sacrifice is not a loss to us, but a net gain. I understand this now, but my rational mind still sort of resists. He is not necessarily asking for more than I am willing to give, but the giving is going to be even more excrutiatingly painful than the last few months have been.
He wants everything I have and everything I am and I am afraid.
I'm going to end up giving it, willingly, but I am afraid.
I will talk more about that later, as well as how it all fits in with the dreams I've had.