Ask any adult when they knew they were in trouble growing up, and most will tell you it was whenever they heard their parents pronounce their full name, middle name included, with emphasis on each consonant. Since I am the third Albert Lee Earley, those few times I heard my name with “the third” added, I knew I was in big trouble. Also, I think it is genetic, that when a parent knows they are going to use a child’s full name they also know what tone of voice they must use. Whenever I heard my friends get disciplined by their parents, all those parents seemed to use the exact same tone as my parents.
In last week’s article I talked about how do we tell the difference between God’s voice and Satan’s voice when we are quietly listening for God to speak to our souls. I used the line, “I have found that even when God is telling me something I don’t want to hear, when I know it is from God it brings me peace.” It would be a lot easier for me to tell you that when God speaks to you it will always make you feel good, but that would not be true. In Hebrews 12:6 we read, “And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” That is the Bible’s way of saying God will call us by our full name at times to make us better because He loves us.
Many times in my prayers I have received gentle whispers from God in my soul that were not gentle corrections to my choices. God has rebuked me for numerous times when I have been unwilling to forgive, been belligerent about proving I was right, and given God a compromised faith. Each time, when I was honest with myself and God, I knew it was God’s voice, and not Satan’s. Each time by correcting my behavior it would bear good fruit. I didn’t always want to do those things God wanted me to do, but I was at peace doing those things because I knew it was the will of God.
Many years ago I was deeply offended by remarks made by some people I work with that were condemning of the war in Iraq. At the time my son was in Iraq in the army, patrolling the streets of Takrit so the people could have their first free election in decades (remember the purple fingers). I held onto that grudge for ten years until I finally listened to God who said to me, “You are of no use to me like this. I am not impressed by your righteous indignation.” It was God’s way of calling me out by my full name. I felt a strong leading to write letters of apology for dropping out of their lives, and mending the broken relationships. God has clearly used that experience to help me learn to “Love my enemies and pray for my persecutors” (Matthew 5:44).
It is not easy for us to be honest with ourselves and with God. God’s standards are very high including such difficult words from Jesus like “turning the other cheek” (Matthew 5:39), “walking the extra mile” (Matthew 5:41), and “giving up our coat” (Matthew 5:40, just to name a few. But we can always trust that God’s ways are superior to our own, and if we will humble ourselves, and do as the Lord says, we will experience a greater love in life and from God.
Do you know how much God loves you? Have you ever let Him correct you, and take you on a new path of forgiveness, love, and mercy leading to spiritual growth? Do you ever pray in such a way that it would be possible for you to hear God’s gentle whisper to your soul? Can you be honest enough with yourself to take correction from God, and desire to see the good fruit that these life changes will make in your life?
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