Can You Hear Me Now?

Do you remember the Verizon commercials from a few years back? The one where Paul Marcarelli was the “Test Guy.” Paul would find himself in hard-to-reach places and ask the question, “Can you hear me now?” You could see Paul on a tropical island, Rocky Mountains, desert, or on a boat in the middle of the Hudson River. Verizon was trying to communicate that their signal was strong and you wouldn’t experience a poor connection with them – unlike their competitors. Verizon was confident that they had the best cellular phone coverage than anyone else in the country.

With that in mind, this has been one of the busiest summers of my life.  I have visited seven different states, racked up over 5,000 miles of road time, camped in the Rocky Mountains, swam in the Gulf of Mexico, and floated down the Current River. I just wrapped up a two-week journey of teaching and hosting “equipping conferences” for the Kentucky Baptist Convention. In the middle of all this travel I have been working on strengthening our church discipleship strategy, expanding our student ministry efforts, and preparing for future events and assignments. Our family expanded by two cats (what was I thinking?!), our girls started school again, and my wife had surgery.

It would be an understatement to say that there were moments when I have felt overwhelmed over the past few months. There were days when my plate was so heavy that I didn’t want to get out of bed. Then there were days where the burden was so overloaded that I couldn’t fall asleep. Sometimes the days would run into each other and I didn’t know if it was Tuesday or Friday.

My world had been so clouded with decisions, uncertainties, and deadlines that I found myself relying more on ibuprofen and coffee than on the promises of God’s Word. It’s not like I wasn’t reading Scripture or burying myself in teaching, preaching, and podcasts. In fact, I was deeply intentional about being filled with truth. The issue was that somewhere inside of me, between my heart and my mind, there was a “poor connection.”

It was as if God was asking, “Can you hear me now?”

My response was, “Are you still there? God. I’m trying to connect with you but I can’t hear.”

“I’m here David. Listen carefully.”

“God…I’m trying…I need you. Where are you?”

“David. I’m right here. I’ve never left you. I’m here.”

It wasn’t until recently when a friend of mine made a comment about his own life that my connection with God strengthened. Considering his circumstances, my friend said, “If I believe in the sovereignty of God then I have to believe there is a reason for all this.”

Those words of reflection instantly resonated with my heart. It was like God was still saying, “Can you hear my now? I know your life. I know your heart. I know your burden. There’s a purpose for all this. I have great plans for you. My Son’s burden is light. Give it to Him. I’ll give you clarity.”

The Bible teaches us that God speaks to us in several ways – His Word, the Spirit, His Son, creation, and other people. In fact, Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…”

Just think about it, if God can use a donkey to speak (Num. 22.28), he can certainly use someone in your life! So here I am, finally hearing the truth that I’ve been pursuing for months. It just took a while to connect.

Here’s the point of this pastor’s confession. Whatever your circumstance – be faithful in your pursuit of God and don’t be discouraged if your connection seems weak.It is easy to try to take our lives into our own hands. It’s easy to lean on our own wisdom, experience, and knowledge. It’s easy to take control. However, if I believe in the sovereignty of God, then I have to believe His Word when he says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3.5-6).”

The kicker is this – I still don’t know what caused the “poor connection.” I’m not sure what was keeping me from hearing truth. I can’t pinpoint a moment that led to cloudiness or burden. But in many ways I can relate to the blind man in John 9 when he said, “One thing I do know, I once was blind, but now I see!”

My prayer is that whatever cloud you’re walking through, whatever uncertainties you face, whatever fears are keeping you from moving forward – may you see clearly the promises of God and experience His presence in a vibrant and life-changing way!

           

           

Good Vibes or the Power of Prayer?

Over the past several months a new trend has gained momentum through the world of social media. While the concept has been around for generations, the resurgence of “good feelings,” “positive vibes,” and “thoughts” have become increasingly obvious through the outlets of Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook.

We are living in a time where “vibes” are more socially acceptable than prayers and “good thoughts” are stronger than the power of God. Consider this, Webster’s Dictionary defines vibes as “a person’s emotional state.” I don’t know about you but there some days when my emotional state is best kept locked up in cage buried deep in the ocean. We have the God-given ability to experience joy, sadness, hope, disappointment, anger, and love all within a matter of moments. If you’ve ever filled out a bracket for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, you know what I mean. It’s called March Madness for a reason!

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Prayer on the other hand is the Christian’s way of communicating with God. We pray in faith (James 1.6), in the name of Jesus (John 16.23), through the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8.26). We pray for healing (James 5.15). We pray for supplication (Philippians 4.6). We pray for others (1 Timothy 2.1). We pray in worship (Acts 13.2-3). We are told to pray all the time (1 Thessalonians 5.16-18)!

When we pray, we are speaking to the Creator of all life. There is not a concern He cannot meet. There is not a request that is out of His reach. There is not a prayer too small or too big that He cannot answer. We have access to the greatest power of all-time with the promise, that if we ask, He will answer (Matthew 7.7)!

So the next time you are in need to be connected to the ultimate source of power, don’t ask me for vibes or thoughts, because vibes never saved anyone. Ask me for prayer. Don’t minimize the power of God in efforts to be trendy or culturally relevant. Call it what it is: PRAYER!

Sometimes the answer won’t be what you want, but it will be what you need. As followers of Jesus, living in the Upside Down, we struggle with changing our old way of living to the new and better path the Lord has laid before us. Don’t get caught up in “being cool” or fearful of offending others. Be bold in your faith. Stand up tall in this Upside Down world. Subdue your vibes and release your prayers!