“I want to talk to Jesus the way that Attie does.”
Oh my gosh, I’ve heard this so many times from fans of Salvaged. This statement (or statements very similar) make my heart dance but at the same time, leave me a bit tortured. Tortured because in the sweetness of the story, a truth was lost. A truth that I knew well. So well, that in my brand new world of writing and not really knowing what I was doing, I missed making the point more obvious. I felt that the subtlety of the message would still make a point, when in reality I should have shouted it from the rooftops.
If I could go back now, I would add a note at the end of the book, and this is what I would say:
First and foremost, thank you for reading this story. The reality that you could pick up a story that I wrote from such a place of brokenness, and read it to the point that you have made it to the end – to this note – it means more to me than you could possibly understand.
The old saying goes that ‘writers write what they know’. That’s very true. But for me, writing Salvaged, was a lot of writing about what I wanted to know. What I needed to know. Questions and pains brimming from the depths of my soul that needed a clear word from a Savior that I believed in but that I didn’t truly know. A savior that I needed a true relationship with.
The questions, the fears and anxieties; the temper tantrums the “huh? Moments” – all that Attie experienced, I experienced. When she needed an answer, I needed an answer. When she felt rejection, I felt rejection. And when Jesus walked her through those things, he was walking me through those things. Many of her experiences actually happened to me in similar fashion at some point in my life.
Attie is me. I am her. And I believe that part of the reason that you have made it this far into the book is because she is a part of you as well.
One night, in the middle of my brokenness, I literally cried out to Jesus. I begged him to show up in my room and tell me what to do.
And he will for you too.
But as in any relationship, you carry some responsibility.
[Please allow me to take on more of a Tammy role and just tell you like it is. No sugar-coating.]
Jesus is there. Always. And he is always speaking to us. The question of hearing him is more about us than it is about him.
You won’t hear him if you don’t actually sit with him for a while each day.
One of the reasons that Attie was able to talk to the Lord is because she continually made herself available to him. She made time for him.
If you aren’t taking at least a few minutes out of each and every day to communicate with him, you certainly won’t be able to hear him in your most desperate moments.
Spending time with him each day isn’t a rule. It’s not something that you have to check off a list. He isn’t making you do it. He will never force himself on you. He will wait. Patiently.
You don’t have to sit with him each day but if you don’t, the consequence is not hearing his voice and that consequence is on you— not on him. He’s always there. You’re the one that won’t sit and talk. [That was harsh. Sorry, not sorry.]
You won’t hear him if you won’t shut your mouth.
He absolutely wants to hear what’s on your heart. All of it. Good. Bad. Ugly. He wants it all. The more important question is whether or not you want that in return. Are you truly willing to not only listen, but hear what he has to say? As with Attie, sometimes what he has to say doesn’t feel so great at first. But it is always said in love and it is always best for us to hear it.
He is a comforter, yes. He is a friend, yes. He is a counselor, absolutely! He is a healer. A warrior who fights on our behalf. He loves us unconditionally. He is for us. He believes in us. He has a plan and purpose for our life and he’s excited to share it with us. He wants us to take a step. He wants us to face our monsters. To be triumphant.
And he will tell us all of that… if we’ll shut up long enough to listen
[That was me preaching to me]
You won’t hear from him if you only go to him with a list of wants, needs and demands.
Our agenda isn’t his priority because he sees the bigger picture. It’s his plans and purpose that are most important. It’s about a willingness to say (and mean) “Thy will be done”. It’s about offering ourselves to be his hands and feet. Trust me, from life experience I have learned that it is through being his hands and feet and putting his agenda first that my (true) needs are met. He’s amazing like that.
Should we take our needs to him? Absolutely! But we are to take them, lay them at his feet and let them go, having completely handed them over to him.
You won’t hear from him if you’re putting on a show.
He wants you. The real you. The heartbroken, yet hopeful. The fearful, yet courageous. The lost, yet searching. He doesn’t want you to do what you think you’re supposed to do, or say what you’ve been told you are supposed to say. He wants your heart. He wants your truth. He wants your honesty. He wants you raw, he wants you real. Put down the act. Quit trying to fake it. When it feel like there’s no place else in the world that you can be the real you, at his feet is the safest to let the walls down and come as you are – a beautiful mess.
You won’t hear from him if you’re distant and angry.
When my son Caleb was little and he was mad at me, he would sit in a corner with his back to me. When I would try to talk to him he’d say: “You’re not my friend no more!” I hated it. It broke my heart.
I wanted our relationship repaired but I wasn’t willing to give in to his temper tantrum to get it. I knew what was best and I wasn’t about to give up because for the moment, he was upset.
How often do we get offended with the Lord because our (perceived) needs, agendas and wish lists aren’t met? We turn our back. Walk away. Tune him out… until we need something and then we run back to him and wonder why we have such a hard time hearing him.
Sometimes when I sit with the Lord, I literally have to start with: “I’m hurting. I’m bitter towards you right now…. I’m so sorry. Help me get over it.” And sometimes it takes a while to move on from that place but I do… with his help.
Let’s face it – life can royally suck. Big time. Life doesn’t make sense and it can down right be painful. But to harden our heart towards God not only doesn’t make it better but it puts up a wall that makes it impossible to hear him. And trust me, when the walls are up and we can’t hear him, things only get worse.
Sometimes he’s literally screaming to us, but our ears are so jam packed with crap, we can’t hear him. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that you can only watch Christian stuff and listen to Christian music and read Christian books – but come on. What are you watching? Listening to? Reading? And which “voice” is louder?
Okay, now for the nicer stuff. :)
Prayer doesn’t have to be a chore. It’s simple.
Just because Jesus isn’t actually standing visibly in your room wearing jeans and a t-shirt doesn’t mean he isn’t there. And just because you can’t audibly hear his voice doesn’t mean he isn’t speaking.
If you feel something in your gut – chances are that’s not your internal organs speaking it’s the Holy Spirit. He will nudge you. He will speak to you. It may sound like yourself but of course he will talk to you in a way that you can relate to. Don’t expect to hear him speak in King James Bible form.
How do you test if you’re hearing from the Holy Spirit or talking to yourself? It takes practice. Practice takes time. A huge hint – if what you are “hearing” doesn’t line up with his Word – it’s not him.
One of the ways I trained myself was to keep a log. I literally wrote down any nudge I got. It could be a nudge to go outside and make sure the car doors were locked. Or it could be to tell a person something that I felt the Lord wanted them to know. Next to the “nudge”, I wrote the outcome. What did I learn? I talk to myself a lot.
I learned that he talks to us a lot and about a lot of different things both big deal and small. And I learned that it’s sort of a fun game to play and it just so happens to be a faith feeder.
He talks to you through his Word. The Bible. Read it. Often.
He talks to you through friends, family and mentors. You know when someone says something that was a “God kiss”. You feel it in your “gut”. Call it what it is – the Lord communicating with you.
He talks to you through books… and three specifically that I know of, called Salvaged, Rise and Collision. (Just kidding… sort of)
He talks to you through journaling. Write what floods into your mind – no filter. Then, go back and read it and write the thoughts that come to you as you read it. I do this all the time. Love it.
He talks to you through music.
He talks to you through sermons.
I literally listen to sermons all the time. That’s what iTunes is for as far as I’m concerned. I listen to tons of different pastors and it keeps me in tuned to hearing his voice.
He is everywhere, which means his voice is everywhere – we just don’t see it that way. Train your spiritual ears to find his voice. As you do, you will hear it more and more.
The two most common things said to me from fans:
“I want to talk to Jesus like Attie does” and “I want a Riley Bennett”.
I hope this helped you with the first of the two. I hope you see that you can talk to Jesus and he wants to talk to you too… and does. I urge you to give your relationship with the Lord the time that it deserves… that he deserves.
And as for that second cry of fandom: “I want a Riley Bennett” – talk to the Lord about that. He didn’t give me the gift of match-making (or the time). But let me end with this – don’t settle. Wait for the guy worthy of you.
Again, thanks for reading Salvaged. I hope that it inspired you and leads you towards a REAL relationship with your creator.
Questions? Comments? Rants? Leave a comment!
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