“Be still. Listen.” Everywhere I turn I hear these words. While visiting with friends of mine, or reading different books, blogs and devotionals, I feel the Holy Spirit telling me to be still and listen. While reading His Word, my soul is being spoken to. “Be still. Listen.”
I pray a lot, but I cannot say I’ve ever truly just sat and listened, waiting for God to speak to me. I’ve at least never done this in a quiet reserved kind of way where I took time by myself, prayed inviting the Holy Spirit in, and just sat and listened for God. I’m usually too busy talking to Him trying not to forget anything I want to tell Him.
Something I’ve prayed about lately is our financial situation. We’ve been very blessed and God always provides! I haven’t been praying for more money, but for God to take control of our financial situation, and to give us guidance and wisdom on where to even begin to correct the mistakes we’ve made in this area. The only way I’ve ever known is living day-to-day, paycheck-to-paycheck. The more money we have, the more we buy, the more we owe, and the more we become slaves to our “stuff”!
Looking back, we’ve had plenty of opportunity to be debt free, and have actually been debt free before, but only for a short while before we wanted more and bought more. I’ve been feeling and realizing lately, that I haven’t been a good steward of what God has given me financially and I want to make things right and start over. So I continue to pray for guidance.
One early morning, I sat with a warm cup of coffee in one hand and began reading, “Lead Me Holy Spirit” by Stormie Omartian. As I read, Stormie talked about listening for God. There it was once again: Listen for God. I put the book down and began to pray inviting the Holy Spirit into my being and praying that God would speak to me in ways I could understand, and that I would hear Him and know that it was Him and not my own thoughts. I prayed that I would hear anything and everything that He wanted me to hear, and that I would act accordingly. I prayed that He would use me in ways that glorify Him. Then, I just sat quietly, listening for Him. I didn’t hear anything at that moment, but I felt a peace and a confidence that I would hear Him sooner than later, when He wanted me to.
Several hours later not even thinking about the quiet moment I had with God earlier that morning, I walked into my closet to get a shirt. Out of nowhere I suddenly felt a strong leading from the Holy Spirit. It wasn’t an audible voice, but the words were crystal clear inside my soul. I heard, “Sell everything you’ve got.” I quickly glanced around as if I was expecting to actually see someone and thought, “Okay, this is weird and dumb, surely this must be me talking to myself.” I heard it again. “Sell everything.” I started to laugh a nervous kind of laugh as I immediately thought of the verse Matthew 19:21 (NLT) Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” I begin to pray…
“Dear Lord, If this is from You, please help me to understand and be sure, because I feel as if I’m having absurd thoughts. However, if this is something You are really asking of me, then so be it! Yeah, so be it! I pray your will be done. In Jesus name ~ Amen”
I laughed again but felt my heart beginning to swell. I thought, “Is this really God speaking to me?” “How is my husband and my family going to react to this if I get discernment this is from God and choose to follow through?”
You see, my husband had already felt a nudging in his heart for the last year or so to put our house on the market so we could downsize. I would immediately start looking at my stuff and say, “Well we will need to get a storage unit if we’re going to have a smaller house, because I’m not getting rid of this or that or that or that, and the conversation would die. So you can imagine his reaction. He simply laughed and said, “Yep, just what I’ve been feeling.” I felt my heart beating heavily in my chest and tears began to well up in my eyes as I smiled at him and said, “No… this is something weird, I’m serious…like I think I could even sell that” as I pointed to our bedroom furniture. He replied, “Why not, all we need is the frame and mattress set.” I just smiled back at him, took a deep breath and suggested we continue to pray about it.
It was at that moment that I began to look around at all our stuff, and realized there was no longer an attachment to any of it! It wasn’t something I felt the need to hold on to anymore. It no longer had control over me, and I no longer yearned for more of it. It wasn’t in an unappreciative way, but in a way that shouted, “God, You are what’s important, and I want to begin making things right with what You have given me!”
We had become and still are at the moment slaves to all of our stuff, because we have to work extra hard just to pay for it or to have more which in turn takes away from what’s really important. I could sell my stuff, start paying off debt, and be on the road to being free from these heavy chains. And even better, by doing this, I would be able to help others in need, which is much more fulfilling. I knew then that it was just stuff, I wouldn’t miss it, and felt that I could have it again one day if I really wanted it. But would I ever really want it all again?
That following week I was sharing my story with my bible study group, and one of my friends said something like, “It doesn’t even matter if you actually sell it now Cristi. It already means so much that you’ve detached yourself from it and that it doesn’t have a hold on you anymore! In a way, God’s work has already been done in your heart.” Hmmm…I can understand that. I assured my friends that I wasn’t going to do anything drastic and would continue to pray about it.
I did continue to pray, and as the days went by, “understanding that change in my heart” wasn’t enough. So one morning, I prayed again, and prayed that if it’s God’s will, then let all of it sell, and if it’s not, then may no one be interested. I started listing my stuff. Most of it hasn’t sold, and I’m not sure what is to come, but I felt great about listing it. It was freeing in a sense.
I’m on a mission, and it looks like it’ll be a drastic one after all. It’s just stuff! I feel God is asking me once again to pick up my cross and follow Him, and I have a peace about doing just that. Have you ever had a similar experience where you felt the nudging of His Holy Spirit? How’d you respond?
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24 (NLT)