Suddenly there were three words in my head. Those are the three words God spoke to me, or at least put in my head, when I asked him, “What do you have for me?”
I was at a Christian businessmen’s retreat. About midway through, the facilitator told us to “Go silent, ask, then listen to God.”
He said, “Ask God this question, ‘What do you want me to know right now?’”
I was preoccupied as usual and didn’t believe I could get settled enough to listen. In spite of this, I did what the guy told me to do.
I must have spent at least an hour listening for the answer to this question. Nothing. No ideas, no voice, no writing on the blank notebook page. Nothing.
And then the call came for all of us to return to the conference center. And that’s when I knew. I just knew. I stopped and wrote it down.
“Time. Receive. Obey.”
When I wrote it down, I knew instantly what it meant.
I need to spend my time differently at this stage of my life. I should not just keep doing what I’ve been doing for the last twenty-five years. I’m in my late sixties, and my life is different now. It is different at home, with my kids, with my friends, in business, and in church.
Family is growing, and business is slowing
It is all different, but I am not stopping long enough to realize it. Now I see it. And I see it clearly. My family and friends are bigger, much bigger. And my business is smaller, much smaller.
I came to believe in the child-rearing years, the family grows arithmetically. Once the children leave, the family grows exponentially. In the early stages of life, all the decisions were mine and then mine and Kathy’s.
Now my kids choose spouses and get married. I’m a father-in-law. Then they start having children, and I’m a grandfather. And since I have four adult children, the family gets big fast, really fast. And I didn’t make one of these decisions. But I’m all in.
I also have close friends who are being diagnosed with medical conditions, just like I have been. No diagnosed medical condition is good. We are all coming to realize there is an end to this life, this friendship. My buddy Greg often quoted his dad who said, “No one gets out of this thing alive.” We used to laugh at this ten years ago. Now it is truth, our truth.
So this message from God is timely. It is not about allocating time differently. It is prioritizing differently. Step back and not be on automatic from week to week. I’ve been doing my schedule for so long, a change in how I spent my time was always an exception or small change.
Now it needs to be a big change. In fact, it needs to be a reframing based on what is important and what I value most.
I’m a serve guy. I like people. I like to serve and help people. But this often times comes with a big negative.
Kathy tells me, “You keep giving until you have nothing left. That’s when you get depressed and withdrawn.”
I’ve come to realize I have trouble receiving. For example, I meet with people about their needs. Normally I’ll end the meeting with a prayer. Sometimes the person will say, “Thanks for meeting with me. How can I help you?” Or they’ll ask, “How can I pray for you?”
Silence. Blank look. Nothingness.
God is telling me I need to receive his love. And to receive the love of those around me. Be served. Ask for help. Allow others in. No man is an island, and I’m an island. This is getting harder and harder as I age.
I believe God was telling me, “Look around you!” When I picked my head up, I realized how much love surrounds me. Then I realized right then, I’m stiff-arming God and others. I need to receive his love and their love. Take it in. Take it on. Receive it.
This time with God reminded me of something I used to do and stopped doing. I used to ask God questions. What I realized was, if I ask God questions, he answers me.
Sometimes the questions are for clarity on his Word in the Bible. Or maybe he even gives words of comfort when answering my questions. But then there are the times He is asking me to do something.
When I hear each of these answers to my questions, I need to obey.
Obey may simply mean take it and believe it. Other times I need to do what he asks me to do.
But most importantly, I need to be asking. And after I ask, I just need to be silent. Listen for his “still small voice.”
God is not a screamer.
God is not a chest-poker.
God is there all the time.
He’s in my presence, just waiting for me to be ready to listen. To put down the phone. Cut off the TV. Find a quiet place and just listen. Pen in hand, ready to write whatever he says.
Then believe it and do it. That’s God!
These three words: time, receive, and obey…life changing for me.