What do you do when you have a compassion deficit?
Consider the empathy and compassion of Jesus and ask God to help us feel the same compassion He feels when we see others in need. Susan Muto says that reception of mercy generates compassion for others; compassion “will flow from the sacred heart of Jesus.”
Does God care about where I am investing my time? Does he know where and how I may be most productive in each and every moment? I know that it is not always about productivity. But, is he concerned with what I am doing every second of every day? I think so. Does he tell me what to do in each of those seconds? Definitely not. It seems that he gives us a free will to choose what we see as the best and in doing so, we follow the general principles and guidelines that he has given as we work and live and relate to one another and the world around us. But, I wonder, are there times when he may want to communicate with us about a “place where” or a “time when” or a “person with whom” we should invest our energies?
One morning, in Luke 5:1-11, after a frustrating night of fishing, Jesus tells Simon to try fishing once again and tells him to “put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch” (5:4). Simon obeys, “But at your word, I will let down the nets” (5:5) and the result is a record breaking catch. I am not exactly sure why Jesus did this although the result is that Simon becomes aware of the holiness of Jesus and of his own sinfulness and ends up in worship of Jesus. By the end of the story, Simon has left everything behind and follows Jesus in a life of discipleship.
I think we all would acknowledge that Jesus does care about how and where and with whom we invest our time. About where to go to church? About what ministry to be involved in? About who to call or email or text or visit? And so we read the Bible, talk to fellow believers and pray.
As I continue to work on my dissertation, is it possible that Jesus would ever have something to say about what area of my writing that I should focus on today? About what articles would be most beneficial? About how to get the right wording in that paragraph? I don’t know.
I hesitate to write this lest anyone think I am saying that we should not do anything unless we hear from God. That is NOT what I am saying. In fact, this brings up another issue—how do we know Jesus might be directing us to do something when he is not here today. Some would say he only speaks through his word today. Well, I would say that he never speaks in contradiction to his word but that he does still speak today. How we discern that is another question. In the absence of any clear communication, we are to follow the God-given wisdom and insight that he has given to us. But, maybe, just maybe there are times in our day when
Jesus may have something to say to us about where we should cast our nets. Will we be listening?
Does 1 Kings 19 teach us about how we are to hear the word of the LORD or does it teach us the importance of maintaining a focus on the ministry of the word without concern for the results of our ministry? After reading 1 Kings, should we be reminded of the apostles who made it a priority to give themselves “continually to prayer and the ministry of the word?” (Acts 6:4) Is Elijah teaching us to trust in the power of the word? (Heb 4:14-16; 2 Tim 4:2; Rom 1:16; 1 Cor 1:17-21)? Does 1 Kings 19 not remind us and warn us that we are not to “refuse Him who speaks?” (Heb 12:25)
Are we to understand the “still small voice” of 1 Kings 19:12 to be the primary way God communicates with us today, as many have suggested above? In order to hear God are we required to say like Samuel, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening?” (1 Sam 3:10) But, are not the sheep expected to hear and follow the shepherd’s voice? (John 10:1-10) Is it possible that we miss something of God’s character when we fail to meet with Him in stillness and quiet (Is 30:15; Psalm 46:10) Do not the withdrawals of Jesus, to lonely places, in order to pray, provide us a model for these kind of practices? Following are a few occasions when Jesus withdrew: (Lk 5:16 following busy ministry—“often”; Mk 1:35 at night; Lk 6:12 before choosing the 12; Mtt 4:1-11 in wilderness before beginning ministry; Mtt 26:36 before the cross).
When we talk about listening to the still small voice of God, is this independent from the Word of God? I don’t think so. It is the written word upon which we are to meditate and dwell upon day and night. (Psalm 1). It is the written word that is God-breathed and powerful. (2 Tim 3:16-17) We are to not to neglect even one word from God’s revelation (Mtt 5:18). God communicates to us through the sometimes loud preaching of the Word just as He does through our quiet reflection upon His words. Is it not a danger to emphasize a special way that God communicates to us apart from the written word? “Each way God communicates to us has its own special uses, but all the ways are not equally significant for our life with him. In terms of overall importance, the written Word and Jesus, the Living Word, are not even to be compared to a voice or a vision used by God to speak to an individual.” (Willard 87)