Are you too busy for God? Are you too distracted to hear God’s voice? Is it possible that God has been reaching out to you to bless or warn you? You may be wondering, how does God get your attention?
Ok, maybe I have your attention. Most men only take about 3 seconds to decide whether or not to pay attention to a webpage, email, phone call, and especially an article that is longer than two paragraphs. We are too busy and maybe too addicted to constant stimulation from our phones and social media.
How God gets your attention
It is alright to be busy and feel productive, but what if you miss out on the wisdom and blessings of God? In my experience, you want to listen to God earlier instead of later. In this article, I will share with you the three ways that God gets your attention – a wink, a nudge, or a shove.
How God gets your attention: A Wink
Squire Rushwell was the executive producer of ABC news. Traveling around the world as a person of faith, Squire kept on having moments when circumstances were too aligned and meaningful to just be a random coincidence. In his book, “When God Winks: How the Power of Coincidence Guides Your Life,” Squire shares moments when he felt God’s powerful presence.
Think back in your life when someone was in your life, or something happened at just the right time. I remember driving home from college because my father was in the emergency room. It was a three-hour drive, and I was praying fervently for my dad. I was on the backroads of mid-Michigan when suddenly I had a strong feeling to pull over, take a break, and look at the early evening sky.
It was a God wink moment as I looked at the thousands of stars. I realized that my God is the great God of all creation, and I could trust him with my dad’s health. I jumped back in my car, and when I slowly went over the hill, I soon stopped as a herd of deer was crossing the road. If I had not pulled over, I believe I would have crashed into those deer.
I believe seeing the stars was a God wink. Theologians refer to the inspiration of nature as God’s general revelation. When I saw the beauty of creation, I was reminded of God’s greatness. The stars were a wink, but the herd of deer was like a nudge. God confirmed that not only was He looking after my father but also me. By the way, my father survived and lived for many years after that medical scare.
How God gets your attention: A Nudge
The Bible is full of stories of when God got the attention of faithful men. Elijah, the great prophet and hero of the Old Testament, was searching for God on the mountain. Elijah was once courageous and victorious versus the prophets of Baal but ran in fear when Jezebel put out a contract to have him killed. Elijah ran in fear, and yet God still provided for him physically and emotionally. Over time, Elijah was ready to listen to God and went up to Mt. Horeb.
And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.” 1 Kings 19:11-12. (NKJV)
God often speaks in a small, still voice that is a spiritual nudge to do the right thing. Through the Holy Spirit, we feel the quiet, yet powerful conviction or that God is calling us away from sin and towards doing His will. I think of Jonah and God’s nudge to become a prophet to the Ninevites. Jonah resisted as he hated the Ninevites and their terrible sins against the Israelites and so many others. Jonah thought he could run away from God by taking a ship going in the opposite direction.
Eventually, God arranged it so Jonah was literally shoved off the boat, tossed into the sea, and into the belly of a whale. How God gets your attention: A Shove.
How God gets your attention: A Shove
As much as I love Jonah’s story, the story Balaam is one of my favorites. Balaam was told by God not to go on a journey with some Moabites, yet Balaam saddled up his donkey or ass and went anyway. Instead of striking him down for his disobedience, God decided to create a unique shove to stop Balaam.
21 Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the Moabite officials.
22 But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the Lord stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him.
23 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, it turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat it to get it back on the road. 24 Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path through the vineyards, with walls on both sides.
25 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam’s foot against it. So he beat the donkey again.
26 Then the angel of the Lord moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat it with his staff.
28 Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?” Numbers 22:21-28 (NIV)
Balaam was a fool to ignore God and used a talking donkey to finally get his attention. The stubbornness of Balaam is still being exhibited by men today. May we be humble and smart enough to listen early and often to God.
Here is a quick summary of how God gets your attention.
A wink – A moment when you see or hear something that reminds you of God’s love and promises.
A Nudge – An experience that inspires you to live by faith.
A shove – An encounter with the power of God, revealing His truth and will, that requires a response of obedience.
There are many great stories of men encountering winks, nudges, and shoves from God: Abraham, Moses, Paul, and Peter, to name just a few. Take time after reading this article to write down the times in your life when God got your attention. God is always seeking your attention to bless you and your family.
Paul Arnold is a husband, father, grandfather, and currently serves as a chaplain to a senior living facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He hosts several podcasts – Man to Man (career advice for men) and Pardon the Confusion (Sports) that are found on iTunes and www.redcircle.com