God's unexpected voice
A reflection for the Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
by Rev. Gregory Dyson
It was almost 20 years ago. I met a friend and told him of our vision to see young people’s lives changed. We prayed, studied, pondered, and we watched for God’s opportunity. We listened for God’s voice.
My friend said, “I’m not a prophet, but maybe God is opening an opportunity.” He told me of a building near him for sale. It was old, in need of some repairs, and on the market for $100,000.
I was not impressed.
I said, “I just feel like God wants us to have something else.” His response was notable:
“If God is closing other doors, maybe this is the window for you.”
Not profound, not inspiring, not even Scripture. Years ago, on the show Touched by an Angel
, when it was time for the big reveal, the angel on the show, Della Reese, and her sidekick, Roma Downey, would start to glow, and they would give some super-enlightened God-message. It would be backed by a cello, and some other stringed instruments, and come at least two minutes before the commercial break, so it must be from God! But the message I was getting from my friend seemed far from that.
Could this really be from God? I was expecting a bit more. Something. Anything!
Well, as time passed, we did what the Word of God says in 1 John 4:1, test the spirit and see if it really is from the Lord. And, to my surprise, it was. We bought that building. Not for $100,000, but for $1!
We moved in with the help of dozens of volunteers. The ministry efforts began in 2001, and the following years brought some 50,000 visits to the centre. God led scores of young people to start or renew their relationship with Him. The work was handed over to another ministry and continues to this very day.
In this Sunday's reading from Numbers, Moses’ faithful and trusted assistant, Joshua, saw men prophesying in the camp and told Moses, “They better stop it! Shut them up Moses!” It was different than the way, place, or time that he expected to hear God. It didn’t sound like God’s voice.
Maybe Joshua assumed himself an expert on God’s voice. I suppose he had attended Here’s How God Speaks University
, or maybe he saw himself as a lobbyist for God’s truth. But the bottom line is, he got it wrong. He was shouting, “Shut them up!” But Moses said, “Let them prophesy!” And Moses hoped that everyone would prophesy. In fact, Moses’ words sound similar to Jesus’s words in Luke 19:40 – “I tell you, if these should hold their peace, the stones would cry out!”
A few thoughts on God’s unexpected voice:
- He is God. He does what He wants when He wants.
- God did more than create. He interacts with His creation.
- God is sovereign.
- When in doubt, refer to point #1.
No doubt, God is speaking! The question might be: are you able to hear?
Softening your spiritual ears or removing the carnal wax build-up puts you into a place where God can use whatever and whomever He desires to speak to you: a donkey, a burning bush, a couple of guys in the camp who were not in the right place at the right time, and maybe even this blog post you are reading now.
Dear God, soften our hearts so we can hear from you. Open our eyes to those around us, to help us see. Strengthen our feet so we can run to you. And loosen our tongues so we can shout praise and rejoice.
The readings for the Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B, are
Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48
Rev. Gregory Dyson is a husband, father, preacher, administrator, and motorcycle envy-ist. He currently serves as the Vice President of Intercultural Leadership and Church Relations at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana.