Tag Archives: Listening

How Amazing Are Your Thoughts Concerning Me, Psalm 139:17

Listen With Intent

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. That is the quote that springs to my mind when I think back on my July 4th. As the sun rose on July fifth I woke up to my husband going back to work and as I looked around I had a lighter feeling in my heart as it seemed the small crystal that I was given as a gift was casting more rainbows into my room than it did yesterday.

The plan for the day was to set my heart right with God, meditate on his word, and practice quieting my mind so I may listen for his voice. I picked up “Walking with God” and started to read. Again I was struck with how these words came to me at the right time. The author expressed concerns about dealing with hurt and disappointment. He also worked through how to turn his failures into a time of learning and drawing nearer to God.

God can talk to us in many different ways. I grew up hearing about Special and General revelation. Special revelation is how we know God through the Bible. It is the primary way we learn about our Father and Creator, how to gain salvation through Jesus Christ, and how we should live our lives. In my religion classes they classified General revelation as what we can see of God through nature and what we can learn from it. It is our inherent sense of right and wrong and the beauty of a sunset.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”  – Romans 1:18 -20

The author of my book, John Eldredge, talks mostly of a way my teachers and professors never did. I am not sure if he would classify it under General revelation, or something else entirely. He points out that the book of the Bible is not full of story of exceptions, but of truths that we should whole-heartedly believe in. One of these truths that God, through the Holy Spirit, wants to know us intimately. John talks in his prelude that sometimes we feel that our daily lives, our usual tasks, are too minuscule for the Ruler of the universe to care about, but there are many times the Bible points out to us that that is just not true. He quotes a few verses from Psalms a couple of times to drive the point home. His favorite that he references is this,

“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.”

He wants to talk to us. To have a conversation with us, even about the small things. He already knows when we sit and when we rise, so of course he wants us to ask “Where is my watch?” and “Where should I go for lunch” and he is ready to give us a response. Most of us are willing to do our one-sided conversation through prayer, never expecting an answer. This book is telling me something I have been longing for, that God is waiting for me to listen for what he is trying to respond with.

So today, I was going to try to hear that response. I tried one of the suggestions that this book talked about, asking God what I should read today from the Bible. I started out with a prayer, the things I would usually pray for at the beginning of my day. I then grabbed my Bible and set  it on my lap. “What should I read today God? And help quiet my mind so I may hear you and not my own thoughts” . . . Nothing. But that was alright, this was going to take some getting used to. I asked again “What should I read today God?” and John 10 popped into my mind. No good, that was my mind, I was thinking John 10 because the author used it as an example, but just to make sure, “Was it John 10?” Nope, didn’t feel right. I asked again. This time the book of Psalms came to me, and it felt more than just my own suggestion. I got a little excited, but I had my doubts. Psalms, of course my own brain would choose Psalms, who doesn’t want to read Psalms. So I asked for clarity, “Is it Psalms God? Is that the book you want to me go to?” . . . 139. I felt that. 139. Why would my mind make up such a random number? So I turned to Psalm 139 and before I started to read I place my hand over the passage and asked one more time. “Is this the passage for today? And if it is, let me know that this is you, and not my over-anxious brain making this into my own thing.” I felt a yes, this was right. I lifted my hand and started to read.

“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. . . “

The passage goes on of course, but if you were reading closely enough that last bit should sound like an echo. I knew. I knew I had heard God. The verse that I had read the day before in the prelude of my book, the verse that had meant so much to me as the author described it as showing us that, yes God cares about the little things in our life. I had been struggling with that, I feel that God should only care about the big things. The big movements, the big people. You know, like Pastor’s who are leading troubled churches and missionaries in Africa. Why would God care to talk to me? To know me? Because . . .

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” – Psalm 139: 13 -16

Not only was this verse one that my soul need to hear, that my mind needed to read, but it was one that I could not dispute that God had put into my heart. It echoed the message of the book I was reading, and my mind is terrible at memorizing numbers, so there was no way it remember that the author had been quoting Psalm 139. There was no doubt in my mind that this was the verse I was supposed to read and there was no doubt that God, my almighty and perfect God, has no trouble reaching down to me, no problem talking to me.

I had heard Satan’s whispers before, now I was ready to start hearing God’s voice instead.

I Would Like To Tell You A Story of God’s Victory. Part Two.

“I would like to tell you a story of my victory. Unfortunately, that seems to be a story of another day.” Oh how wrong I was . . .

The first post I put up on July 4th was on my other blog, ended with the quotation, and my second post ended with the full quote above. I had suffered a lot of pain that day, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. That first post was written while my pain was still fresh and the day was still young and the second was written as a new day had dawned.

When the tears had subsided and when I had unloaded my heaviness, telling James all of the lies that I had been hearing and had been believing and might still believe, we took a nap. I woke up a couple of hours later not knowing what I would do with the rest of this painful day.

I went on my computer. Wasted some time on iwastesomuch.com and read some blogs. One of the blogs I followed had posted about a failure they were struggling with and trying to learn from, so I thought I would take my fresh pain and turn it into some prose as well. Writing “I Would Love To Tell You A Story of My Victory” on my Ripples in Culture blog.

I then moped around for a bit. Slightly uplifted from the blogs I had read and some inspirational images I had stumbled across. I asked James to make me some home-made mac n’ cheese and I started my bubble bath. This combination may sound strange to you, but James will easily tell you that this is my routine when my body and my mind need some healing.

I was in a half daze. Trying to pull myself out of this funk and yet the old me enjoying it. Like a pig wallowing in the mud, welcoming this gunk and enjoying the feeling of it covering me up so I can hide.

I hunkered down on the couch to watch James play some video games, Dragon Age 2 to be exact. On the coffee table were  the two books that I had been given by one of the members of our congregation. This lady is a wonderful and lovely woman, but I fear very misunderstood, even by me. She makes me feel uncomfortable. She likes to hug people, especially those that she knows who are hurting. And she likes to linger. She is a little socially awkward wonderfully sprinkled with lacking personal space.

She is one of the most amazing children of God I have ever met. When it comes to giving and sharing she is beautiful at it. She was there when I shared my testimony and has been reigning hugs down on me ever since. She shared with me part of her story and showed me the scar that was left from her own self-mutilation. I was then handed a card with a poem she wrote for me, a gift of a glass crystal that makes rainbows in the sunlight (I had shared how I used to love colorful gifts as a child, but had lost some of that to my dark depression), and two books called Walking With God and Waking the Dead, both by John Eldredge. She told me that they had helped her and some of what I said in my testimony had reminded her of those books and she hoped that they would help.

So I picked up Walking With God and started to read. It only took one page and I wanted to cry . . . and to laugh.  I also wanted to chuck the book across the room and forget it existed. The words hit too close to home. I had been opening myself up, or trying to at least, to the Spirit. I had been pouring out concerns and hopes to our mentors trying to figure out why God still has us living in Fargo. We have been here for two years now, and I had only been thinking we would be here for one. I wanted to move to Chicago, but every year when our lease is up for renewal we find a good reason to stay. We renew again next week.

I mentioned during my last post that I had been seeking, but had not been finding. It was my fault. I was not really opening up. The part inside of me that likes to do things on my own was taking over. I should be able to fix myself. So with that and the lies of the demons I was made deaf.

This book was all about how to seek intimacy with God, how he craves that from us, and how we should seek to hear him, and how we should crave that as well. Darnit, my crappy day was bound to get better.

I read and read and read. Stopping only for a moment as we got ready to drive out to a campground to visit our friends, our mentors, and their family for some campfire, somes s’mores, and some games. I read in the car down there. We hung out, and I was okay. I actually smiled and felt happy. There was very little time for serious talk, so I was not able to discuss in length the problems I had been having that day, too many other people around. But I was still doing alright. We played some pinochle, and of course girls rule and boys drool, we crushed them.

I read on the way home. I was hooked. I was mesmerized. My eyes and ears were starting to be opened. During the car rides that day, while I was reading, my ears would perk up to a song here and there. We had our radio tuned to the Air One station, it plays some awesome Christian music. And every time my ears would perk up for a song, it was one that was a song that my soul longed to sing. Music can be such a counselor and such a healer sometimes.

By the time I laid my head down that night I was a new person. I no longer wanted to recede back into the old me. I no longer believed Satan’s whispered lies. I wanted to run the race set out before me, full sprint.

And tomorrow would be a new and wonderful day, with a new gift from God. . .