Monday, January 14, 2013

Listening to God's voice

For Christmas, my mother gave me a daily devotional book entitled "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young. It was a book my mom had found particularly uplifting, so she wanted to share. The devotions in it, each paired with a Bible verse or two, stem from Young truly endeavoring to listen to what God was trying to say to her during her daily prayer time, and writing those messages from the Lord down in her journal as if he was speaking to her directly. She decided to give it a shot because, despite knowing God spoke through Scripture, she was yearning for more of Him (although not Catholic, something tells me Young might get a lot out of Adoration).

The wife of a Christian missionary, Young writes in the introduction to her book that stilling herself enough to actually hear what God was trying to tell her was difficult, and that she felt awkward at first writing down these messages she heard from Him. Through practice, though, it eventually became easier to discern what God wanted her to hear.

If you've never tried writing a letter to yourself, written as if God was talking to you directly, you might want to give it a shot. In college at Florida State, the campus ministers at the Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas More were members of the Brotherhood of Hope, based out of Boston. We would have retreats each semester and, on the last day, when we weren't in small group time, or listening to a talk or watching a skit, we were charged to go off individually, find a quiet space, and write a letter to ourselves from God. It never seemed like an odd thing to do. After they were written, we would put them in a provided envelope and turn them in. The Brothers would mail them to us sometime later, and they would arrive, unexpectedly, about a month or so after the retreat, maybe, a reminder of time spent away from the pressures of school and the "real" world, simply being in the Lord's presence.

I think many of us have that problem sometimes, not just in finding time for quiet prayer, away from work and the world around us, but especially when discerning what God wants to say to us, as opposed to our own voices. I know I do sometimes.

I still have all of those letters I wrote to myself, from God. Now and again, as I'm going through a wayward box, I'll stumble upon one mixed in with old movies stubs (why on earth do I keep those, anyway?), term papers and birthday cards. The funny thing is, they contain, along with Bible passages I found moving at the time, reminders of things I still need to hear from Him today: Trust in His plan. Don't be in too much of a hurry. Know that you are loved beyond all telling. Be patient.

Whether the Lord speaks to us in letters or simply in prayer time, though, being open to His voice is a challenge. While He sometimes roars at us, more often, as with the Prophet Elijah, it is in a "still, small voice."

Oh, God, help us to listen!

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