I started reading this book, “When the Soul Listens” by Jan Johnson last year. I have just finished reading Chapter 10, and still got five more chapters to go. There are lots of things that I can share from the book. For now, I would like to share from Chapter 8 – Asking God Questions.
Let me share from this section…pages 104 – 106…
Why We Don’t Ask
If you’re like most people, you don’t plan to leave God out by not inquiring. For various reasons, you just forget.
I already know. You assume you know the answer – especially if it concerns something at which you’re skilled. King Saul was, after all, a tall, dynamic military leader. Sending out scouts might have seemed more strategic, than asking God for direction.
I have a strong opinion about this. Let’s say your spouse wants to visit someone on vacation, but you’re sure you don’t want to do this. You give an automatic answer without inquiring of the Lord. So often when I inquired of God about something such as this, the result has been that I’ve either had a change of heart or I sympathize with my spouse and come up with an idea that satisfies both of us. The process of inquiring is important because it helps us see the other person’s heart.
I like one-size-fits-all answers. The answer or solution found last time becomes a formula; every dilemma has the same answer. For example, Saul went ahead and made the sacrifice; it seemed obvious that attacking first was a good strategy because the Philistines were encamped. That was the military formula. Today, we resort to our own formulas – doing things as they’ve always been done, doing what’s advised in the current bestseller – when we could be inquiring after God for His ideas.
Sometimes we circumvent God because we’ve become so policy-oriented it doesn’t occur to us to stay open to God’s guidance. At a retreat, some leaders asked me what I thought their church’s policy should be about having baby showers for unwed pregnant women. So far, they had done nothing because giving a shower might indicate approval of premarital sex. Yet they felt bad about neglecting these young women.
I asked, “What are these women’s names? What has each woman said about having a shower? What is known about the condition of each woman’s heart toward God?” I then named each one and asked, “If the church had a shower for ______, what would that tell her about God?” A shower from the church might embarrass one but affirm another. Did any of them need the financial rewards of a shower? Would any of them desire, in addition to a shower, to meet with one of these female leaders on a regular basis? “Find out what these woman need,” I urged them, “and then get on your knees as a leadership tem and listen to God together. Make it your goal to determine how God wants to use you in each woman’s life.” This method is blessed, so I use it. We often assume certain methods or people are blessed by God because they seem successful. Should I raise my kids a certain way? We think, Sure, it worked for him, so we don’t ask God – which might cause us to look in our children’s hearts and see if these methods are appropriate. Pastor and author Peter Lord writes:
When God has blessed others by using certain methods, we sometimes presume that we should use those same methods. We don’t realize that God blessed that way for others because that’s the way he ordered them to do things. Nowhere is this more common than in church programs. One church prays and receives an answer – a specific method of carrying out a certain order of God. They are richly blessed because God blesses what God orders. Then another church, seeing this blessing, copies the program – because they believe God is blessing the program itself. They fail to realize that what he is really blessing is obedience. And they never stop to ask him, “Father, what do you want us to do?”
When God gives seeking hearts a certain answer, it may not be His answer for you as well.
I’ve already heard God speak. Even when you’ve inquired of God previously and sensed His direction, schedules change, bodies change, locations are different, and bosses are different. It’s important to pray and seek God continually.
Lately, I have thinking about Jordan’s education – whether I should place him in a Christian or non-Christian school/pre-school/nursery. When I first asked Seng Chor for his opinion, he firmly said non-Christian school. Reason? Big ‘fishing pond’. Yes, there’s some truth in it. I realized that we haven’t really prayed about Jordan’s education. I felt that I already know the answer and I have a strong feeling about it. From the beginning, I have been thinking about sending him to the pre-school in our vicinity. We passed the school everyday – it is at a corner, opposite the guard house. Every morning, I see parents/grandparents/guardian/maid taking the kids to the school. I have a sentimental kind of feeling for the school.
What I read from the book, reminded strongly that I should pray for Jordan’s education. I must not assume that I know the answer. Moreover, what works for others may not work for us. As I started to pray about it, I asked these questions, What character qualities do I want to build into Jordan? What are my goals for Jordan? Then, What type of school will help build those qualities? I started to recall prayers and prophecies over Jordan. Prayers for Jordan from various people have focused on this point - that he will grow up to be a man after God’s heart. It was also prophesized that he will cross cultural barriers to relate to different people. The answer for me is that the school should emphasize on character building, particularly biblical character.
Another school that came into my mind is the one in SS Gospel. Seng Chor’s nephew attends the school and I’ve heard very good feedback. The school is actually a walking distance from Jordan’s babysitter. Coincidentally, one of my colleagues who have just joined the College in February is from the church. Last week, I asked him to call the person-in-charge, who is the Principal. On the phone, she mentioned that the school emphasized on biblical character building – this is actually their strength. Wow! It’s like an answered prayer. That night, I discussed with Seng Chor. To my surprise, he agreed to place Jordan in the school. Since it is near the babysitter’s house, after school, one of the teachers could even help send Jordan to the babysitter.
My colleague has helped me to submit the Jordan’s details to the school. I am now praying that there will be a place for him. He will start only next year but we need to book the place one year in advance. I hope that we are not too late.