As I mentioned in my last serious post ...you know, the ones that DON'T mock our political candidates...I have been thinking a lot about what I gleaned from our Outflow series that our church just completed. One of the speakers in the last video suggested that, as we become more interested in finding ways to pour out God's love to a hurting world, we might begin by simply "noticing." Noticing the people whom God puts in our path each day...noticing the look in their eyes, the tone of their voice, the deep sigh, the pause. As God opens our eyes, we will have the opportunity to see God at work and have the privilege of joining in.
I am reading a book right now by Dallas Willard called Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God. The chapter I most recently read tied in beautifully with the experiences and observations I have had in recent months, including they ways I have seen the Outflow curriculum apply in my daily life. The primary focus of the book, as you may have gathered from the title, is the ways in which we speak to God and God speaks to us. The author suggests that there are two primary ways that God offers us personal guidance in our every day lives. "First, God communicates through what we will recognize as a voice or words addressed to- or even through -us." The foremost way we hear His Word to us is through scripture and prayer. These are certainly ways of God speaking with which most Christians are familiar.
The author describes the second way of hearing from God as "discerning God's voice in shared activity." He further describes it like this:
There is a second way in which the intentions and thoughts of God are communicated to those who are with Him. It is one that involves a much more active role on the part of the recipient and is very common among those who are most mature in his family or kingdom. Here we come to understand what God wants us to understand through immersion with Him in His work...
The author goes on to liken this relationship to what the Psalmist described as being "guided by God's eye (Psalm 32:8 KJV)" He describes it like this:
This happens when we are working or playing closely with another and know the intentions and thoughts of the other's mind by our awareness of what they are focused upon.... In many cases our need to wonder about or be told what God wants in a certain situation is nothing short of a clear indication of how little we are engaged in His work.
Now here is the REALLY exciting part...the part that gives me goosebumps:
So our union with God---His presence with us, in which our aloneness is banished and the meaning and full purpose of human existence is realized---consists chiefly in a conversational relationship with God while we are each consistently and deeply engaged as His friend and co-laborer in the affairs of the kingdom of the heavens.
Isn't that awesome? We are talking about working side by side with God...noticing Him at work in our world and choosing to get off the couch and join Him in that work. His life-affirming, unconditionally loving, transformational work that He is ALREADY doing all around us. I think what the author is trying to communicate to us is that sometimes we need to get out of our prayer closet, put down our bible study and get out there and get our hands dirty, if we really want to hear God's voice.
Don't get me wrong. Time spent in prayer and bible study is NEVER wasted. I just know that I have seen too many people, myself included, get stuck there wondering what God is trying to say to them about doing His kingdom work. We can be paralyzed by trying to figure out what great and wonderful thing God is calling us to do. What I am hearing lately says "JUST GO!!" Go out into my world...the grocery store, my kid's schools, my nail salon, the church, the Lamb Center...and open my eyes! See what God is focused on and head that direction. There are people hurting all around us who are desperate to hear some good news...to have someone listen to their story with no judgement and no agenda. I think we start by noticing where God is at work, jump in and listen for further instructions WHILE we are living our life prayerfully, mindfully, lovingly.
I love this new song on the radio. Here are the words to the chorus of "Give Me Your Eyes" by Brandon Heath.
Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me your heart for the once forgotten
Oh Lord, yes, give me Your eyes and Your heart and Your love AND Your courage! What could be better than that! Don't let me miss a single opportunity to hear Your voice as we work side by side in my little corner of the world.