By Femi Aribisala
When Christians cannot hear the voice of God, we become tethered to the bible. We insist God only speaks through the bible. However, the bible is only 600 years old. If God spoke to people in the past without using a bible, as the scriptures testify, you can bet your bottom dollar he is still doing so today. God does not change. (Malachi 3:6). “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8).
Don’t accept the limitations of bible fanatics. Jesus says: “My sheep hear my voice.” He does not say: “my sheep read the bible.” John warns that Jesus cannot be delimited to one book. He says: “there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” (John 21:25). Therefore, don’t put God in a box or a book. God is talking to you, with and without the bible. God talks to those who cannot read the bible, including the illiterate and the blind.
On three different occasions, and without the benefit of a bible, God called out to Samuel. Samuel thought it was Eli calling him. However, by the fourth time, he had received instructions from Eli about how to respond. Therefore, he answered God and engaged in a conversation with him. Let us also be instructed by the different ways God talks to us, guides us and leads us.
Situations and circumstances
God is the God of all providence. I call him the God of situations and circumstances. Since you are his child, know this for sure. Nothing in your life is by happenstance. If it happened to you, it happened for a reason. It is your responsibility to determine why; and what you are supposed to learn from it. So doing, you will soon be confronted with a kingdom dynamic. The good often turn out to be bad for us and the bad often turn out to be good. Every valley is exalted: every mountain and hill made low.
One of the best things that ever happened to me is that I was attacked and shot in the leg by armed robbers. Just imagine that! In the middle of the attack, my ears were opened, and I heard the Lord for the very first time.
Much later, I was thanking God, for the umpteenth time, for delivering me from the robbers when, out of the blue, he said to me: “Femi, I allowed you to be shot because I wanted you to see yourself using crutches. You have been using crutches all your life. I decided to show it to you physically otherwise you would never know.”
Then he asked me: “Can a man walk properly with crutches?” I answered: “No.” He continued: “That is what you have been doing. You have been trusting in chariots and in horses. Now listen to me Femi, put down your crutches and walk.” “But my leg is broken,” I protested. “No,” he said, “there is nothing wrong with your leg. It is not about your leg. It is about your faith. I want you to walk by trusting in me, without using any crutches whatsoever.”
Therefore, I say to you: don’t ignore situations and circumstances. Interrogate them. Take nothing that happens to you in life for granted. God is a God of purpose, so you need to ask: “Father, what are you trying to teach me through this situation?” “What are you saying to me?”
In the scriptures, Jesus taught with parables. He is still using parables today; only that they come as word pictures or object lessons. An object lesson is when God uses something in the natural to illustrate a spiritual principle. Be alert to object lessons from God. They often come through some crisis or difficulty.
Bolaji Ogundimu applied to me for a housing loan, but there were others already on the queue before her. Two Good Samaritans came to see me, insisting Bolaji should be given a loan right away on the grounds of her deplorable living conditions. But I put my foot down: “Bolaji will only be given a loan when it is her turn. It is a matter of principle.”
Soon afterwards, I was on a return-trip from New York. When I got to the check-in counter, there was a computer malfunction. I waited patiently for over thirty minutes while they tried to fix it. Imagine my surprise when suddenly a man came to announce that there would be no more check-ins. When I protested, he spoke directly to me. He said: “According to the principles of Swiss Air, this terminal closes at six o’clock. Once it is six, no more passengers are taken on board the plane.”
The man was not one to argue, he simply walked away. I went into a panic. I couldn’t afford to stay any longer in New York. I just had to get on that plane. And then I heard that still small voice of the Holy Spirit. “So Femi,” he asked, “how do you intend to get on the plane? They have principles too at Swiss Air.”
God talks to those who cannot read the bible, including the illiterate and the blind.
It then dawned on me that God had set me up with a reversal of fortunes. His word says: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Matthew 5:7). I had not been exactly merciful to Bolaji. But now, I was the one in need of mercy. “Please, Lord Jesus,” I pleaded, “only your love can get me on this plane.” The love of God got me on that Swiss Air plane; and the love of God got Bolaji the money to rent a house. I learnt my lesson. When I got back to Lagos, I did not lend her the money: I gave it to her.
God uses everyday life situations to speak to us and to teach us things. As we are going about our daily routine, he might suddenly start speaking to us through them, in order to give us some instruction from them. This can be fairly simple, or it can be incredibly profound. It can broaden our understanding of the nature and character of God, or it can be used to direct our path.
Perhaps your desk was all cluttered with files and papers and you misplaced a vital document. Therefore, you decided to look for it. In the process of looking for it, you were constrained to go through the clutter on your desk and re-arrange all your files. After you finished re-arranging your files, you found your lost document.
God has used the loss of your document to get you to clean-up your desk. Don’t ask me if you lost your document or if God hid it. I don’t know. In any case, in the middle of the clean-up, God starts talking to you about the need for a corresponding spiritual house-cleaning. The Holy Spirit convicts you that you need to get rid of spiritual clutter: bad attitudes and sinful habits that have been impeding your walk with God. That is one of the many ways God talks to us. (Continued).