There was a knock at our door late Christmas Eve night, we paused the family video chat we were on and opened the door to find a young man who blurted out urgently “Mama is sick”. We invited him in and as he stepped from the shadows into the light we realized we had passed him on the road a few times, but didn’t know him personally. He went on to earnestly express that his Mama had been taken ill to the Emergency Room a few hours before but that he didn’t have any means to feed her.
We invited him to sit and talk while we gathered pantry staples. He sat down, his face downcast as he continued, “the men in our family, they don’t look for work, they don’t try to have an income, they drink and live for themselves” as if he felt he should confess this to us, so that we had all the facts before offering him help. He shared that he had been trying to go to school while working off and on, but a spirit of hopelessness seemed to shroud his words – as if convinced his efforts would be in vain and his outcome would be like all the rest of the men in his family.
He paused and smiled at Matthias & Cora, who had been playing and giggling and chasing each other around the room. “I have a three year old daughter” he stated and chatted lovingly about his little girl and we chatted about being parents. We pulled out our gift box from the attic and he helped us pick out a doll she might like and some little trinkets to put together for her to open the next morning on Christmas Day.
His gratitude was palpable, but so was the burden that still hung on his shoulders. I asked him who Jesus was to him. He emphatically began explaining who Jesus was and what He had done for his sins, but exclaimed with dismay “but I can’t hear His voice.” He went on to give a flawless non-canned, 60 second nutshell meta-narrative of scripture and the Gospel – he had been well taught and you could tell he genuinely believed every word of salvation, “but I can’t hear Jesus in here” thumping the middle of his chest, “I can’t hear His voice”.
“My family worships the evil spirits in our home, when I go to my room to pray, I can’t hear Jesus, I can’t hear his voice. All I hear are the evil spirits crowding around me. In fact, that is why I have come here tonight – Jesus led me up the hill from the hospital and told me to knock on your door. I want to learn how to pray.
And so right then and there in our living room on Christmas Eve night, with the chaos of our littles laughing and running circles around the living room, our family on FaceTime on an iPad stand in the corner waiting for us to come back and the dirty Christmas Eve dinner dishes still spread across our dining table – Jesus came – and through the Holy Spirit and scripture we prayed with, counseled, and by God’s grace equipped this young believer with the tools he needed to hear His voice.
God has been ministering to our soul lately through the song, “Come Again” by Elevation Worship.
My soul stops every time at the line,
“You do miracles with empty things”
The desperation of this young believer to know how to hear the voice of his Savior was gripping. His prayer space needed to be emptied in order to hear the voice of Jesus. To pray in Jesus name against the evil spirits in his home, to clear out – to empty – a space where the Holy Spirit could now dwell and flood in.
He is not alone. As believers we long to hear more of the voice of God, yet we invite God into a space that is already over-crowded with other relationships, other activities, other focuses and other voices. It’s like trying to have a heart to heart with a friend in the middle of a dance floor. We expect God to speak over the noise, and when He doesn’t, our faith wilts a little.
I felt convicted of this when praying with Matthias before bed one night. We were praying through the usual list of items, all good, Biblically sound things, some even Spirit-infused. But as we prayed in the same way we had so many times before, I became aware that all the space was filled with words; there was no stopping and listening for the voice of God. And the Spirit stopped me mid-prayer and said, “you don’t talk nonstop when you pray alone with me. Why are you teaching your son to do that?”
So I stopped and said, “you know Matthias, part of prayer is listening. So we’re going to be silent for a few moments and ask Jesus to speak to us.”
A few moments passed. I wasn’t sure how much silence to leave for a 4 year old in prayer. Then, with admittedly low expectations, I asked him, “Did Jesus say anything to you Matthias?”
“Yes” he piped up, “Jesus told me that he would be with me here in my room at night so I won’t be scared.” Surprised and encouraged, we prayed to thank Jesus for speaking.
A few weeks later, Matthias and Cora were reading in their Jesus Story Bible about how God takes care of the flowers of the field, and how much more he cares for us, and Matthias chimed in with, “Yes! Jesus came to visit me last night, he told the monsters to go away. He told me to come with Him and I saw Jesus push the monsters off a cliff.” And then he added, “And I was in my Paw Patrol pjs!” : )
Recently, while they were playing, Matthias suddenly stopped playing and said, “We need to pray for Cora that God would protect her from the monsters.” And unprompted, he began praying a 4 year old’s prayer of spiritual warfare over his 2 year old sister in Jesus name.
He was leaving empty space to listen for the voice of God, and was responding to God’s voice.
“You do miracles with empty things”
We are heading into the season that celebrates the most significant emptying – that of the tomb of Jesus.
And by this miracle, he not only atones for our sin, but returned His Son to heaven, so that He might send us the Comforter, His Holy Spirit, to communicate on our behalf.
He longs to speak with you.
Is there something that needs to be emptied in your life so that He can speak?
What parts of your life or your prayer time do you need to empty to better hear His voice?
“So I’ll wait for You to come
I’ll wait for You to come
’Cause when I’m with You Lord
It always leaves me wanting more
Here’s our praise, You can dwell within
Come again, come again
Let the glory in
I’m open, I’m open
Come again, let the glory in
I’m open, I’m open
Come Again _ Elevation Worship