God is Speaking, Are We Listening?

God is present to his people, he is with them. If there is anything we can learn from the life of Jesus is that God was with him and part of Jesus’ mission was to provide a way for God to be with all of his people, even in the difficult times.

I have seen some difficult times of late, yet God has been with me in surprising and miraculous ways.

What has happened of late is that the books I am reading have had significant insights that touch on exactly what I am going through. Sermons I hear preached, not only have some encouraging words but are addressing the exact situation that I am going through. Podcasts that I listen to discuss things like prayer with the exact questions that I have about prayer but were afraid to ask.

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As much as I like to talk about God’s presence and work in my life, I am always hesitant to force my sense of God’s handiwork in every situation. I am cynical by nature, and don’t trust my own motives and desires in these situations to give me an accurate picture of what is truly happening.

But, like I have stated here before, the more you experience God the more you are able to recognize when he is at work. The more you begin to expect God to show up in a variety of ways. Though lately, I have experienced a heaviness and a burden that has been uniquely difficult and challenging and I have been angry at the way that God has handled my situation, I have also been overwhelmed at how often He shows up. He hasn’t left me or forsaken me, even in my darkness. And it hasn’t just been platitudes and spiritual pats on the back, it has been deep words of encouragement, surprising messages individually designed for me, and discussions, interpersonally or intrapersonally, that have been what I was looking for without knowing what I was looking for.

Just this past weekend, it was J.R. Briggs’ discussion of wilderness as the training ground for God’s chosen people. It was a sermon from Steve Queen on Romans 8 as a reminder that all things work for good for those who love Him. It was a podcast from Renovare on C.S. Lewis and how he wrestled with how to pray and the function and benefit of prayer. I didn’t go intentionally seeking these things out at these exact moments to receive these exact words. God sent these items to me and probably others if I was paying attention.

Though I have had plenty of words with God about how he has done things, I haven’t been surprised to see him work in this way over and over. My relationship with God, through Jesus, has taught me to expect God to show up. It still amazes me, though, how He is present and ready with just the right words at just the right times.

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Apprenticeship With Jesus: Day 9

For Lent, I am walking us through a book called Apprenticeship With Jesus. You can follow along by reading my highlights and reflections. Extensive previews of the book, including excerpts, can be found through Google Books and Amazon, as well as eBook purchasing options.

Day 9: The Good: I Am Better Than I Think

–  “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.” – C.S. Lewis

–  We all have a seed of divinity inside – the Imago Dei, the image of God

–  Image of God = all of the God like qualities that enable human beings to reflect divine character

– We are most like God when all of our components are working in harmony to produce creativity, compassion, and community

If Lewis is right and there is no such thing as a mere mortal or if we all possess the image of God then it is scary to think of what a sorry job we all have done with that divine seed. Especially those of us who follow Christ and understand how God views humanity. How convicting to think there are elements of divinity embedded within us yet we chase after everything that is counter to God and against his nature.

Apprentice Activity: Seeing the Beautiful In Others and Ourselves

Here is C.S. Lewis’ Weight of Glory sermon

–   Go to the last page (p. 9) and in the last column in the middle of the page you will see a section that says, “You have never talked to a mere mortal…”

– Slowly read from this point to the end of the sermon

– Use the rest of the day viewing others differently in light of the awareness of their divine spark. May you begin to treat others in a way that understands their possession of the Image of God

We are such creatures of habit and view certain situations so rigidly. Our interactions with others when we are driving has a certain take to it. Our interactions at a restaurant is similar to everytime we have ever stepped foot in a restaurant. We may find ourselves treating people a certain way at Wal-Mart that we would never at church. In other words, during this activity, I had to intentionally jolt myself away from my natural pattern of interactions in certain situations to remind myself that these people in front of me are made in the image of God. It was much harder than I expected.

What is Jesus teaching me? I realized through this activity that I spend much of my day in fear of other people. No, I don’t have some weird social anxiety but I am constantly fearful that someone is going to demand something from me that I can’t deliver. It was pretty disheartening how ungracious  I am at times because I think everyone wants something from me. This shows how little trust I have in God for my interactions with others.

How do you respond to others? Do you treat others as if they were “mere mortals” or do you view them as keepers of the very Image of God?