How do you know when God’s is trying to get your attention?
Your Friends Confront You
Your real friends will tell you the truth, and it’s not always what you want to hear, but the proverbs teach, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” (Prov 27:6), so sometimes God will send friends into your life who are trying to get your attention over something you’re doing. If a friend sees a friend living in sin and says nothing, then that person is not really their friend.
The Word Convicts You
Students of the Bible know that “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb 4:12), and that the Word of God exposes us all as guilty before God. Nothing is hidden from Him (Heb 4:13), so if you read some Bible verses that really convict you deeply, God may be trying to tell you something, and using His own written Word to do it. Whatever it was that convicted you may be what God’s trying to get your attention for.
Every one has times of their lives when they encounter storms. Sometimes we don’t even see them coming and we’re blindsided, but other times we see it coming, but we’re still helpless to do anything about it. Is that you? Is God using a financial difficulty to get your attention? Have you not been giving to others…or to even, anyone? Maybe it’s something else. Getting near the bottom dollar is scary. That will get your attention.
A Lack of Peace
I heard one man who was thinking about going on a missionary trip to South America. He was prepared, well equipped, and had raised all the funds necessary (as missionaries sometimes do), but as he got closer to departure, he didn’t have peace about it. He couldn’t explain it, but he knew he wasn’t supposed to go on this trip. He ends up not going, and his wife falls terribly ill. If he had left, he would have left behind his spouse who was not gravely ill. When you don’t have peace about something, it may be God telling you, “No,” “Wait” or “I’ve got something better.”
A Damascus Road
Sometimes it takes a “Damascus Road” experience to knock us on the ground and put temporary limits on us, like Jesus did Saul. Saul was blinded for three days until he could finally see, and you know that must have gotten Saul’s attention. Saul was later renamed Paul, because Saul means “destroyer,” which he was for a time with the church, but now, having had to be humbled by the blinding light of Jesus’ Shekinah glory, he would have to depend on others for a time. God may not send a “Damascus Road” encounter, but that encounter can look like any number of different things (DUI, Jail, Prison, Cancer, etc.).
A Divine Appointment
I remember a prisoner who our church ministers to and he was really down because he was sent from a county jail to a state prison and he couldn’t figure out why God was doing this. It was only later when I came to visit him that we both saw what God was doing. He had allowed this man to go to a state prison so that I could visit him and then later, the entire prison allowed us to minister to all who sought counsel or biblical guidance. The prison even allowed me to preach to the inmates, so when this man’s apparent evil sent him to a prison, and neither of us could understand, it was only later that we saw God wanted us to go into this prison as we’re commanded to do (Matt 25:36). God was trying to get the gospel into the prison but He had to use another means for us to enter, so what looked like a bad thing for this inmate brought much good to those who may have never heard the gospel preached (Gen 50:20).
How can the death of a person be used by God to get someone’s attention? The fact is, when I presided over a funeral and told them that they would never see their loved ones again unless they repent and believe, a few came up to me after the service and ask me about what I said. The person who was laid to rest had trusted in Christ and so I told them that Jesus said, even if a person dies, they will live again (John 11:25-26), so their only hope of seeing their loved one again was if they put their trust in Christ. Then, not even death can separate them from the love of God (Rom 8:37-39). For believers, the death of a family member or friend is not goodbye but “See you later,” however for the person who rejects Christ, that is the last time they will ever see their loved one because they will be with the Lord and the lost person will forever be cut off from God.
Hopefully God won’t have to take such drastic measures to get my attention but He must do it if I keep ignoring Him. Living in sin will bring God’s discipline, but it’s a discipline that is motivated out of love and not anger. Any parent who loves their child will prove their love by disciplining them, and so when we see that God is trying to get our attention, we had better take notice, otherwise, God might shake our life up a little more until we fall on our knees. If I keep praying and reading the Bible every day, it may help, but don’t forget about your friends who love you, and in their love, they seem concerned about something you’re doing. Friends are born for such adversity (Prov 17:17).