August 2017 Newsletter
“How do you hear God speaking to you?”
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
A couple of weeks ago I visited an old friend whom I haven’t seen in almost 30 years. She spoke frequently about how God told her this and that. It made me think about a time in my life I was quick to say the same thing, and why I am
quick not to say it now.
So the question that has been on my mind and that I have asked many, is this: How do we hear the voice of God, and how do we know the voice we claim is God’s, really is his?
Many answer this question by saying that God speaks through the Scripture, through nature, through others, through the still small voice within. It is the still small voice within that I want to address in this letter.
Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God.”
1 Kings 19:12: “And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind and earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.”
So maybe the better question is, do we listen?
I am going to risk here, and I pray that you will read this as an exercise and not as gospel. A week ago, as I was kayaking, I let myself drift on the water as I picked up my journal and decided that I would attempt a listening-writing way of prayer. I share it below. I asked Jesus, what is your word for me today? Here is what I wrote:
“Let the water and the wind speak to you this morning. Let the bird song, and the soprano hush of the reeds, minister to you. You are tired, you are experiencing a blessed exhaustion. Now renew yourself in the stillness of the beauty here—in the citrus sun, in the coolness of your lake-dampened shirt, in the rainbows floating on the surface of the water.
“I know what you need body, mind and spirit. I provide all you need. What is needed, what all people need, is beauty to make them whole. Everywhere you look in creation it is there—raw and wild. Just like the small waves that are rippling around you, so let my spirit flow through you. Be present to all that is around you; be immersed.”
Later that same day, my brother emailed me an article written by Chuck Colson for Break Point, entitled, “Faith and Beauty” (a coincidence?). (Colson started Prison Ministry after his conversion in prison where he served time for the Watergate cover-up). Here are parts of that article:
“The UK Telegraph recently ran an amazing headline: “One in six young people are Christian as visits to church buildings inspire them to convert.” In fact, the beauty of the church played a larger role in their conversion than attending a youth group or talking with Christians about their beliefs. And if you’ve ever visited one of England’s magnificent cathedrals, you’d understand why.
“…Back in 2008 he [Colson] talked about the importance of beauty and art as it relates to our worship–and the places in which we worship….
“Does God value beauty for beauty’s sake? It seems He does. Consider the two columns Solomon set up before the Temple. He decorated them with a hundred pomegranates fastened upon chains, as God commanded. These two free-standing columns supported no architectural weight and had no engineering significance….They were there only because God said they should be there as a thing of beauty.
We have forgotten that beauty …. is a form of praise to the God who designed and created magnificent mountains, delicate flowers, and our beautiful children…. The God we worship glories in beauty.”
I encourage you, as the pastor of this congregation, to be still and know God; to listen to his still small voice within, and don’t be afraid to scribble out what you hear. You will know if the words you write are of Him or not.
May the Holy Spirit flow over and through you. May you hear his voice today and everyday. Amen.
With the love of Christ,