Muscle Memory

by Stacy Sanchez

What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.  Philippians 4:9 ESV

Practice is the best of all instructors – Publilius Syrus

“I think they are getting bored. We’ve done this awhile,” the parent volunteer said to me.

“Yep. I know,” I replied, and continued hitting ground balls to the boys. “I like to have fun, too. But, my job isn’t to make sure they’re always having fun. My job as their coach is to teach them how to play the game right and make them into better players. Right now they may be bored, but they’ll thank me later when they’re in a game and a ball is hit to them; they will automatically know what to do without thinking about it. The more we practice this, the more muscle memory they will have.”

I love baseball! I’ve played and coached baseball all of my life. Not girl’s softball. Heck no! The real thing, baseball. Many times I was the only girl on the team and even the only one in the league. I have the newspaper articles to show for it. I love everything about the game and have learned many life applications from it.

A few years ago, I had a cancer scare. Thankfully, the cervical cancer was caught early, but my doctor was very proactive because of my family’s history. The treatments for it were not fun. Eventually, when the protocol didn’t work, and the cancer continued to spread, I had to have surgery: a hysterectomy and extensive reconstruction.

The process of recovery was a long one. I was laid up in bed recovering for quite a while. I thought that this would be the perfect time for me to hear from God. Since I was forced to be still, why wouldn’t he take this time to impart to me a deep spiritual lesson? Bring it on, God! I’m ready.

As the weeks went by, I listened for God’s instruction, but, heard nothing. Crickets.

Honestly, it was a little frustrating, and I was getting angry. I prayed. I begged. I even cajoled God to speak. I’m seeking down here, but not finding. I wanted so badly to hear from God. Maybe he would download a brilliant book idea, a sermon, or some kind of teaching that I would be able to use when I recovered. But there was only silence.

When friends came to visit, inevitably one of the first questions they would ask was, “What is God teaching you in this season?” They expected a deep, profound answer about my newest insights from God regarding life and death. But instead, my reply was, “Nothing!”

What is wrong with me? Why can’t I hear anything from God?

I did recover and am healthy. But I never did hear from God during that down time, nor did I receive any insight until years later.

A dear friend of mine recently went through a cancer scare of her own. And I did what every good Christian would do, I asked her what she is learning about God in this season. Her response was the same as mine, “Nothing!” I could hear the sadness in her voice like I had in mine.

In that moment, I heard God say to me something similar that I had said years ago to my parent-volunteer: It’s not about learning something new right now. I want you to practice what you already know. You need muscle memory, so when another situation arises in the future, you will act instinctively.”

That’s when it hit me. Maybe not all of the situations God allows into our lives are about Him teaching us something new. Maybe they are so we can practice what we have already learned about Him.

TWEETABLE
Muscle Memory – encouragement about hearing from God from Stacy Sanchez on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

stacy sanchezAbout the author: Stacy Sanchez has been married to her beloved husband, John, for 32 years, is a mother of 5, and a very young grandmother of six (soon to be seven) yummy grandcherubs. She is a pastor, author, and speaker. Her passions include teaching Christians about the Jewish roots of their faith, as well as helping to empower women to become all that God has created them to be. When not teaching or writing, you will find Stacy and John walking on the beach and playing with their grandchildren. You can connect with Stacy at her blog, writetotheheart.org, and on Facebook and Instagram.

Join the conversation: Has God been giving you a chance to practice your trust in Him?

Can You Distinguish the Voice of God?

by Lee Ann Mancini

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5 NIV

“What do I do, Lord?” “Can you hear me, Lord?” “God, is that your voice?” “When will you answer me, Father?” I’ve asked these questions at many points during my Christian walk. Certainly, my desire is always to follow the will of God. But sometimes when I am faced with a major decision, I struggle to identify how the Lord is leading me. I ask Him for an audible command or a clear sign regarding which way to proceed, but instead, all I get is silence. Can you relate?

God isn’t always so hard to read. In the Old Testament, God led the Israelites through the wilderness with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21-22). He spoke directly to the heroes of our faith like Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Moses, giving them clear and audible instructions as to His perfect will. They did not have to wonder what God’s will for them was.

But even hearing from God directly, they did not always respond with obedience. God instructed Adam very clearly, “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it, you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17 NIV). We all know what happened next! When God told Moses that He had chosen him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses was reluctant to follow God’s instructions, saying, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11 NIV). Even Abraham proved disobedient to the Lord.  He put the covenant seed in jeopardy when he lied to the king concerning Sarah, “She is my sister” (Genesis 20:2). The patriarchs’ behavior demonstrates that even an audible command from God is not enough to ensure the obedience of His people.

God still communicates with those He loves. He reveals Himself to us through the revelation of the natural world around us and through the special revelation of His Holy Word. He comes to us in dreams and visions. He speaks to us in times of joy and in times of sadness, such as the birth of a newborn baby or the death of a loved one. He impresses thoughts on us as we pray in His presence.

Jesus spent a great deal of time in the presence of His Father to hear from Him. This was imperative to His mission here on earth: “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 5:30 NASB). His humble obedience led to His death on the cross (Philippians 2:8) and resulted in salvation for all humankind.

Part of communication with God is taking the time to listen. If you believe in Jesus, His Spirit dwells within you. He is in your heart, mind, and soul. He is there to guide, teach, and convict. Paul tells us to “be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). He is already present. We just need to remain sensitive to His leading. To be filled is to be fully submitted to His voice.

Pray daily that you will be yielded to the Holy Spirit. I like to say the following prayer every day: “Thank you, Holy Spirit, for dwelling within me. Let every thought I have, every word I speak, and every decision I make be according to your will and not my own.”

In the busyness of this world, we need to be proactive about asking the Lord for guidance. Sometimes we aren’t given the time to wait for as clear an answer from the Lord as we’d like to have. Nevertheless, we must trust that God will be faithful to show us His will in our lives—if we seek Him daily and choose to listen closely.

As God told Isaiah and the people: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3 NIV).

TWEETABLE
Can You Distinguish the Voice of God? – encouragement from Lee Ann Mancini on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Lee Ann Bio PictureAbout the author: Lee Ann Mancini is an adjunct professor at South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary. She is the author of the Sea Kids book series and an executive producer of the new Sea Kids animation series.

Lee Ann’s book, Forever with Jesus, teaches children how wonderful heaven is: no more tears, pain, or suffering. When their neighbor passes away, the children in the story learn that they do not have to fear death, because their belief in Jesus guarantees they will live forever with Him.

Join the conversation: Have you heard from God lately?