Joel Osteen spoke April 27, 2014, about God speaking to people and how we need to listen. In the non-Christian world, this point of view is tantamount to telling someone that we're crazy. But those of us who know, know.
Pastor Osteen says he knows in his heart when something is right. (I note he usually holds his stomach, though, when he speaks of receiving God's guidance). Much of my sensing is felt in my stomach, as well.
In the religious world, many people refer to such messages as visionaries. Some call them words of knowledge. All take care whom they tell about them because of the negative reactions they bring from others. There was a time people would have been committed to the loony bin for telling. Fortunately, there are guidelines now restraining others from sending people off to asylums unless they are a danger to themselves or others.
The sermon set me off on a memory trip. A common kind of visionary is to be headed toward a destination in a route you usually take, but feel you absolutely should not go that way this time. How many times have you headed that way anyway and found yourself embroiled in a traffic jam? That's what Joel Osteen means by listening to God when he speaks to you.
My two favorite times involved Montgomery Wards. My second job, a seasonal one, was over, but I still needed extra work. Nothing appropriate was showing up in the ads. I just couldn't shake the feeling that I should try Montgomery Wards. I called, but nobody answered. I went out there. The personnel director wasn't there. I looked at the message board and found an announcement about a position in the sewing machine and vacuum department. The good Lord knows I was experienced at using both of these. Eventually the personnel department and I connected so I could fill out an application. A week or two went by and I'd heard nothing. I was so sure of my message from the Almighty that I asked one of my sons if Wards hadn't called. "Oh, yeah, he said. They did." "When?" I asked. "I don't know. Two or three days ago."
Still feeling comfortable with my word of knowledge, my visionary, I called them back and explained what had happened. It appears the manager who received my app had felt I would be a better fit in the toy department because of my experience working with kids.
So began my job in Lawn and Garden, Toys and Sporting Goods. The manager of that department meant it to be a seasonal position until I said I wanted something more permanent. He asked what experience I had with garden implements. I could honestly say that for a number of years I had spent far more money on garden tools than clothes. And I knew how to use them.
The next visionary is the kind that can truly get you locked up if you aren't careful. I had just turned 62 when my full-time employer began passing bad paychecks. Because of working two jobs much of the time, I seemed to always be applying for work and faced the prospect with great dread. I saw the bad paychecks as a sign the company was about to fold. So, I went to Social Security and applied for retirement. I worked out a part time position with my company and planned to continue it as long as they stayed open. Retirement was to become official on November 1. On October 19 in the p.m., I bought a new computer for writing and for playing on the internet. I had gone to the food court and prayed, asking if it would be okay. I was certain I was told He would not authorize it, but if I chose to make the purchase, He would see I got money to pay for it. On October 20, 2000, the company announced it was folding and most of us were working our last day. I kept the computer, as God had promised and I knew He would be good for His word. He didn't disappoint.
But still, I needed something part time. Montgomery Wards near my new home was looking for a salesperson in women's clothes. This time it wasn't a feeling in my gut or a sensing in my heart. I was told directly not to apply because something was about to happen at Wards and "I don't want you there when it does." What happened? Wards, almost immediately, announced that they were going to close their doors for good.
So, like Joel Osteen said on Sunday, you have to be willing to listen. You have to follow the messages whether they come to your stomach, your heart or your mind. You have to heed the words. And you have to take the opinions of others concerning the state of your mental health with a grain of salt. You see, they may not be as privileged as God's crowd, or they may just not be tuned into the messages. Whatever the case, this is for real, folks.