Sermon Details

Stop, Look, Listen

January 16, 2022
Wabash Avenue Presbyterian Church in Crawfordsville, IN, invites you to join us as we worship in this time of SARS-CoV-2. Today's virtual service will be led by Pastor John Van Nuys, Sermon - "Stop, Look, and Listen". Thank you for joining us remotely.
(25) ”I have said these things to you while I am still with you. (26) But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.
– John 14:25-26

We know the Holy Spirit, is here. By the Holy Spirit, God speaks to us through scripture, sacrament, and sermon – no matter how bad the preaching is. We know what Jesus teaches us, but how can we tell where Jesus leads us? Not just generally to love God and neighbor, but specifically: What should I major in? Should I move into assisted living? Should I marry this person?

God is always speaking to us. But we don’t always hear because we expect God to send the Blue Angel flying squadron to write us an unmistakable message in the sky. While God does send angels to convey messages, the angels who come don’t always match our expectations.

The country star Waylon Jennings’ career was crashing due to cocaine. So, he decided to get clean. And God spoke to him. Waylon was holding his son Shooter, who was coloring. Without drugs, Waylon marveled that he could just hold his son, coloring, for 45 minutes. Floored by that miracle, Waylon said: “I decided right then to never touch cocaine again. And I never did.” Waylon didn’t expect God to speak to him through his life, but God did. How might God be speaking to you through your life?

We don’t put much stock in dreams, but the ancients did. Thank heavens, my boss Beth did. She had a dream telling her to get a mammogram. She wasn’t due for one, so she ignored the dream, but it kept recurring. It wouldn’t stop. So, she got a mammogram, which revealed a mass. It was cancer, but they caught it early. And she lived. Pay attention to your dreams. God might be telling you something.

A pre-med student had to take a history class to graduate. He didn’t want to do it, but he had to – and he loved it. “I fell in love with history. I realized that I could make people care about history if I told the story right.” So, Stephen Ambrose changed his major. Ambrose wrote about Eisenhower, Nixon, Lewis & Clark — and World War II, including his book Band of Brothers. Ambrose followed his passion; embraced his desire. We’re wary of desire — for good reason. Pursing the wrong desire can wreck us. But a good desire, rightly pursued, can make us. God speaks to us through what we like – and those good desires can direct us in heavenly ways.

We expect God to sound like Morgan Freeman, but most of the time, God speaks through everyday voices: Our spouse tells us again that we should see our doctor. A counselor assures us that we’re not alone. An ordinary recovery group helps us find extraordinary strength to live one day at a time. This shouldn’t surprise us. God didn’t speak through a crowned Caesar. God spoke through a common carpenter. God still speaks through common means to convey uncommon Truth.

The Russell Crowe movie Noah had a great line. Russell Crowe’s Noah received this counsel from Methuselah, played by Anthony Hopkins: “You must trust that the Creator can communicate with you in a way you can understand.”

Our county health officer told us not to meet. So, we cancelled in-person worship. God speaks to us through science, reason, doctors, and data. As we follow their guidance, we’re blessed. What basic instruction are you heeding or not today?

Since the Enlightenment, our western education has mostly discouraged us from listening to non-rational sources of wisdom — like our intuition or our life. Nonetheless, the Creator continues to communicate with us in ways both rational and non-rational, which we can understand – if we’re open. God is still speaking through unlikely angels, recurring dreams, positive desires, good therapists, supportive recovery groups, scientific data, and a myriad of other completely ordinary ways.

God usually doesn’t give us the entire blueprint. God mostly deals with us on a need to know basis. We’re mostly, only told what we need to know when we need to know it. I believe that we’re all capable of getting these messages God sends us. We mostly miss these messages because we’re too distracted or because we discount the source, the means, ourselves – or all three.

So, try this: Disconnect from your devices and reconnect with your Creator. Create some capacity for silence. Slow down, listen, and you will hear the still, small voice of God speaking to you.

God will never direct you to harm yourself or another person. So, fear not. What if you follow the positive way you thought God was leading, but it turns out you’re wrong? You can always adjust course. God will help you. And you can always check with trusted confidants, mentors, and friends. God speaks through them, too.

We are not all on our own. God loves us. God guides us. God speaks to us. Stop, look, and listen. God has a word for you.

In reading this, your heart may be stirred. What you’re feeling is the Holy Spirit drawing you to Christ. To begin or renew a relationship with Jesus, just pray:

“Lord, help me receive your love. I regret the wrong I’ve done. Forgive me. Jesus, I believe you are God’s Son and the Savior of the world. Be my Savior. Save me from myself. Save me for yourself. Enter my heart. Fill me with your Holy Spirit. Help me to serve you faithfully and well. Help me to love as you love. Lead me in your Way, Truth, and Life now and forever. Continue to show me who you are and who I am in you. Amen.”

If you pray this prayer, contact a pastor. They’ll show you how to live for Christ with purpose, peace, and joy. Jesus says: “Behold, I make all things new.” That definitely includes YOU!