April 2, 2019
“And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’” (Acts 9:4, ESV).
He was a tough guy who left the military after multiple battle-related injuries, now practicing as a surgeon in Southern Georgia. I was at a Southeastern retreat when I asked him how his life was going. “This has been the hardest year of my life.” He went on to explain, “I had been working nine straight days on call without coverage. I needed to do a colon case, a large cancer of the cecum. I was very tired but thought I did a good job, with negative margins and 32 nodes retrieved. That night they called me with his creatinine rising. I had injured the ureter going after so many nodes. I found our best urologist to repair the injury, but he caused a pancreatic leak. The man was 80, his son was a missionary and my mistakes were going to cost him his life. I could not deal with my failure. I had a belt hanging from the clothing rod and was ready to use it. Then I heard an audible voice, ‘If you do this, your son is screwed.’” He paused and then added, “God has to talk plain to old soldiers. God stopped me, and I am now here.”
Sometimes God “talks plain”—usually when our ears are stuffed with the wax of the world. In my own life, these plain-speaking times have not been pleasant. When God has had to “talk plain” in my life, it has been because I was headed in the wrong direction. His words were indeed clear, but they sounded like a two-by-four striking my skull.
Most of the time God has spoken with whispers in my life—whispers that are only audible when I seek Him with all of my heart. When we abide in Him, His nudges and whispers and “sense of rightness” carry us down His path, almost unaware of His speaking. But, if we must hear Him “plain” in order to step onto His preferred path for our lives, His words will come crashing through in clear language, like they did to this ex-soldier and they have to me. It is much better to abide in Him and follow His path with whispers and nudges.
Let me seek your path with all of my heart. Do whatever you need to place me on it.