Tag Archives: Listening

I don’t know the answers…

Lately I’ve been wondering:  How does God speak?

How does God speak to you?  Does He speak the same way to everyone?  Did He speak the same way to everyone in days of old?  Is Scripture the only way God speaks?

How can God speak through Scripture when it’s not in front of us?  If we have committed Scripture to memory just a little bit wrong, can that create a problem?  If He speaks to us in other ways, how can we hear Him?  How can we discern what is God what is Not God?  How can Satan distort what we hear?  What’s the danger of saying, “God told me…”?

If God’s Word is living and active, can it have both a primary meaning for the original audience and many layers of meaning for new situations and generations?  How does the Bible intend itself to be used?

How do you approach the study of Scripture?  Systematically?  Scatter shot?  Have you ever been surprised by the relevance of a passage you came upon in a regularly scheduled reading plan?  Does God have sovereignty over the calendar?

If you hear no direct answer when you seek God’s will, guidance, or counsel, what does this mean?  Is He not listening?  Does He withhold an answer sometimes?  What should we do in that circumstance?  Is it disappointing when He is quiet?  Can we find an answer in His Word?

Is it better to keep asking under the theory that it is good to persevere, or to remain silent under the theory that He already heard and is firmly in control?  How does His silence present an opportunity for relationship?

What does it mean that Jesus is the Word?  The Word is a person?  What’s the role of the Holy Spirit in prayer?  How does He assist in decision-making?  How do you know?  Jesus said His sheep know His voice — what does it sound like?  Is it easily duplicated?  Is ear-tickling the tactic only of bad preachers, or also of devils?  Does God speak through our emotions, our minds, our circumstances, or in our ears?  Does He still use visions and dreams?  Is there anything that constrains God to use particular means in speaking to us?

If you felt like God did indeed impress something on you, would you take action immediately?  What if you don’t?  What if you do?  Does God ever say one thing at one time and then contradict Himself?  If God never contradicts Himself, why do we, over time, stray from what we believe He first said?  If God never contradicts Himself, how can Scripture be useful in approving what we feel we have heard?

Do you listen to the Lord?  Do you expect to hear Him?  Do you diligently keep a pen handy to write down what you hear?  Do you expect to hear Him on a range of topics, or only certain things?  How detailed is God?

Does He care what cereal I eat for breakfast?

Does He care what music I listen to, which route I take to arrive somewhere, or whether I speak to strangers at the grocery store, or are certain things outside His purview?  If He does care about these things, do I ask His opinion about them?  How do I tune my heart to hear Him?

If you knew that God would speak to you 100 times today but you would hear him only once or twice, how would you feel?  Is this the state of things?  If you believed that the Bible had specific things to say to your situation moment by moment, would you treat it differently? If God spoke to you every day for thirty thousand days, would there be paper enough to write it all down?

If He spoke to me just once, would I be all astonishment?

Have I paid attention to the ways the created world speaks, giving God glory?  How does the Bible unpack the redemptive analogies present in nature?  Does God continue to speak in metaphor through advancing knowledge of creation?  That is to say, is there more to hear?

How do different faith communities approach these questions?  What is there to learn from different camps?  How did heroes of the faith, theologians, and sages, understand these things from different angles?  Am I dogmatic about this?  Should I be?  How earnestly do I seek wisdom in hearing God?  Is there perhaps uncharted territory for me in listening to Him?

What might God have to say to me today?

From Annie Dillard, The Writing Life:  “Rebbe Shmelke of Nickolsburg, it was told, never really heard his teacher, the Maggid of Mezritch, finish a thought because as soon as the latter would say ‘and the Lord spoke,’ Shmelke would begin shouting in wonderment, ‘The Lord spoke, the Lord spoke,’ and continue shouting until he had to be carried from the room.”

Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.

A little birdwatching

We stood at the top of the hill, at the particular bend in the road where we always turned around, pivoted in the mud, and stood rooted in it, our boots sinking in with stubbornness: here is where we will stay. The sun was setting in a rush; already the shadows rose up from the cliff bottoms to the east, and the tops, still sunbathing, faded fast. Only the really big mountain to the south was still clearly hanging on to daylight. It was time to go.

If peace were a place, this would be it. Peace, where aspen grow to unbelievable size. Peace, where red-winged blackbirds, misreading the calendar, sing spring through the snow. imagePeace, in a snug cabin stocked with board games and popcorn, stuck in another century.

In Peace, you have time to pause at the window and notice things. You see a bird, a pretty one, maybe a bluebird, and you think, now what is the point of that bird? It doesn’t contribute anything practical to the world; it just sings a bit, and really, what good is such a small song? And you stand there, idle, with the dishcloth just dangling, and listen, and it is so quiet that that bird is all that you hear, that flash of sapphire against the snow is all that you see, and you wonder what kind of logic rules a world where singing sapphires flit through the trees going their happy-go-lucky way for no practical purpose. And then you are thinking about who would dream up such a world, full of flashes of beauty and grace, but where, time to time, one of those same bright birds crashes into a window and dies, and who would notice? And you are thinking deep theological thoughts, all because it was quiet and still, and you were paying just a tiny bit of attention.

imageI like Peace. I was not in favor of leaving. And so I stood in the twilight, begging the day to rewind, willing time to stretch out long and lazy like a cat. And it began to dawn on me that if Peace is a place, I would be leaving the next day, heading back down the mountain to the rushing world below. Nothing would be any different there — sirens and miscreants, hurry and worry, jangle and rattle and hum. But if I were different somehow, still, listening — if I could manage to pay a tiny bit of attention, maybe I would spot the city bluebirds. Maybe, if Peace is a person, Peace could come home with me.

We are back in civilization, en route to another cottage on the other end of the world, where my husband will study for a short season. We drove through a minor blizzard on a long and tipsy highway, clutching the wheel and breathing deep. We added two hours to our trip via a not-optional detour — the pass was closed — arriving tired and frazzled. Back in the world of tv and internet, we learned immediately of the Boston marathon debacle. We are going to Boston. I wanted to turn around, back through the blizzard, back to my happy place. But Peace was with me, and (no doubt with a longsuffering sigh) patted my hand in an easy there way.

Find quiet. Be still. Pay attention. Slow down. Choose light. Peace.