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Hey, I’m over here!

In the past week, things have changed. I haven’t been writing in the morning. I don’t hear the Lord’s voice as I usually do. I have sat down to spend time with Him, and nothing. I went on the same walks with Him and nothing. I drove in the same silence as before and nothing. I started to sense He wanted to get my attention. I began to look elsewhere for His voice. As much as I love journaling in the morning, it wasn’t the same without His voice speaking into it. The walks and drives were void of His whispers.

But then.

I heard His voice calling me into His presence in an odd way. It wasn’t in the devotional chair, the car rides or the solitude walks I frequent. It was in the tension of an area of my life He wanted to address. He wanted me to give my attention to being a more present father during the hours my kids were awake. It wasn’t that He was silent; I was trying to hear Him in the areas He wasn’t speaking. You see, I often try to recreate the presence of God from past experiences and then miss His presence altogether; because He wants me to move with Him.

Looking back now, I did hear his voice; I just didn’t want to hear how He was communicating. His presence was through conviction, not solitude. His whisper was through tension in my house, not peaceful walks alone.

I was overjoyed when I heard Him. In the past, I could have missed it for months or maybe even a year. My discontentment of not hearing His voice grows so fast because my belief that He is Emmanuel (God with us) gives me the confidence that He is present in every moment; so if I can’t hear Him, then maybe He wants me to seek Him in other areas. Perhaps He has moved His fire by night and cloud by day to the next dwelling place, but I’m still trying to experience Him in the tabernacle at the old location.

Here is what He is saying to me. “Give yourself fully to your kids in the morning and evening when they are awake. I’ve seen that you want to song-write, read your kindle, clean the house, have moments with your wife, work out in the gym, talk outside with neighbors, or work on stuff from church.”

I said back to the Lord, “But when am I gonna get those things done if I spend every evening expending myself for the kids?”

His Spirit ministered to me, saying, “Do you trust me? Do you trust that I will give you revelations for new songs outside the hours I’m calling you into parenting? Do you trust me with your marriage, the house’s cleanliness, and your other desires of working out and getting church stuff done? Josh, I’m calling you into this so you can be filled, not emptied. You see it as draining. I know it as filling. Trust Me.”

I was overjoyed when I recognized His voice. I hadn’t heard Him in a few days, and I was getting concerned that I had done something wrong or hadn’t been living rightly, and because of that, He had withdrawn from me. However, His promise stands: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39, ESV).

Since he is Emmanuel, He is not absent from your day. He promises that nothing can separate us from His love. It might be that He is speaking differently, and you haven’t learned to hear Him in that new way.

It was like I was trying to listen in the cave where Elijah was hiding, but God was calling me out into a different location so that I would hear His whispers for the next steps. I didn’t want to listen to the conviction of my errors in parenting. I wanted to feel His goodness in solitude and songwriting. For the past two days, He has challenged me to be fully present with the kids, and I am enjoying hearing His voice again, not in my 4:00 a.m. reading time but the middle of the street playing 4-square.

As I was playing 4 square with the kids the other day, all my neighbors were outside talking, and I wanted to hang with them, so I quickly let my kids get me out with the ball, so I could walk over and join the adults. As I was walking, I sensed the Holy Spirit say, “go back and play with your kids. Your neighbors already see you as a community builder and know you care about them, but now they need to see what a present father looks like.”

As I played with the kids, it filled me up!

I will be on this constant journey of shifting my attention to where He calls me, but for now, it is my evenings and mornings with my kids. I will fail, but as long as His voice is leading me and I continue to pick up my tent in the wilderness and move with Him, I will be satisfied in Him.

Last night we played outside for 2 hours again because these kids have endless energy. We came in to eat dinner, showered, and laid everyone down to sleep. I then went to bed. It was 8:00 p.m. No songwriting, the house didn’t get thoroughly cleaned, I didn’t get a workout in, and I didn’t read my kindle —yet I am whole. These are the mysterious ways of God’s filling through the things I thought would drain me. Not every day will be exhilarating, not every moment will be laughing, but every moment will be me finding and feeling my way towards Jesus, who is calling me into the place I now exist.

“That they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being.’”

Acts 17:27-28a (ESV)

His voice is what I’m after, and He is teaching me to listen in new ways. He has called me out onto a new trail, and I have found him. Hopefully, as I get older, I will be quicker to stop when I don’t hear Him and listen to my Shepherd’s voice over my shuffling of gravel on the wrong trail.

How about you?

Josh Bramos is the Worship Pastor at CityRev Church in Pembroke Pines Florida. He is a songwriter, worship leader/pastor, and founder of Village Hymns. He is passionate about connecting people to Christ through worship and community. He and his wife Makenzie live in South Florida with their four children.

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