TONY ELDER: Open your heart and listen to God when He speaks to you

Tony Elder

Tony Elder

As the annual deadline draws near for filing income taxes, let me encourage everyone to make every effort to get your paperwork correct. If the IRS even suspects you of making an error, it can be quite an ordeal trying to get the matter resolved. If you can avoid it, don’t mess with the IRS.

My wife and I have been embroiled for months in an effort to straighten out a matter that was questioned on one of our previous returns. The problem we’ve experienced so far hasn’t been over the issue itself, but simply in trying to get the right department of the IRS to receive and acknowledge our written explanation and supporting documents.

We’ve mailed them, faxed them, had an IRS employee fax them — every time with our being instructed to wait a month for it to be processed and then we should hear something back. But in each case, the only thing we heard back is that they didn’t have a record of ever having received our communications.

It’s frustrating when you keep sending something, using a variety of methods, and the intended recipient still doesn’t acknowledge receiving it. How can you take the next step in resolving an issue, if you can’t even communicate?

I wonder if God gets frustrated over our refusal to receive His attempts at communicating with us. My hours of waiting on the phone and sitting in an IRS office are miniscule compared to the thousands of years God has been trying to get through to mankind.

Think of all the various ways He’s tried to get His message to us. He’s revealed Himself through nature. Creation itself shouts to mankind that there is an intelligent and powerful God who formed it. Yet man has been guilty not only of not accepting that revelation, but of going so far as to worship the creation rather than its Creator.

Then God has spoken through his prophets and other messengers. Think of the powerful lives, preaching, and even miracles associated with the likes of Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, and others. However, many of them found themselves rejected, persecuted, and even killed.

Additionally, He has given us His written Word — an inspired, reliable, authoritative communication from Him. Although the Bible has traditionally been a best-selling book, how many of its copies today lie on shelves untouched most of the time? And many people are willing only to accept the parts of the Bible which they find most palatable and harmonious with their own lifestyles and views.

Ultimately He gave us the living Word, Jesus Himself, who is the supreme revelation of God, what He is like, and what He has to say to mankind. But many refused to accept the testimony of who Jesus was. He ended up being crucified like a criminal.

God has also given us the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts. He is faithful to show us the truth, yet so many harden their hearts and don’t listen to His still, small voice as He convicts of sin and tries to draw us to God.

Sometimes in Scripture I can sense the Divine frustration coming through. “Because when I called, you did not answer; when I spoke, you did not hear (Isaiah 65:12).” “Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear?” (Mark 8:17-18).

Let’s open up our hearts to God’s revelation in all the ways He’s endeavored to communicate it to us. Because only then can we truly move toward a right relationship with Him.

The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at revtelder@aol.com.