Friday, March 11, 2011

Learning to Listen

On Wednesday morning, I sat with my Bible in my hands and asked myself what I should read.  For a long time I followed the From Garden to City reading plan and then I read Acts to get ready for a study I was writing and then I read various Psalms just to breathe life into my faith.  Now, for the last two months I've been reading the book of John with my Life Group. But we finished the book of John, and that left me without any direction.

I mentally went through the various books of the Bible, and felt at a loss.  I turned to the book of Psalms, intending to start there.  I suppose there's no bad place to read.  It's just that some books speak to me more powerfully at certain times than others.

And then it occurred to me that maybe I should ask God what to read.

I know.  For a lot of people, this would be the first thing they would do.  For better or worse, I usually make these kinds of decisions based on logic.  What is this book about?  What is God working on in my life right now?  What book will speak most powerfully to that issue?

But a close friend had just responded to one of my blogs, sharing that she is learning the discipline of asking God to enter into even the smallest areas of her life, like what she should wear and what she should eat for lunch.  My first reaction to her email is that God doesn't actually care about what we wear or eat.  But I know that's not true.  I actually changed clothes last Sunday morning because I decided what I had on wouldn't really please him.  And as for eating, I know that I make choices that don't please him.

My friend's goal is to learn God's voice as she goes about the day.  And I want that too.  And so I asked God what I should read.

And then I turned to First Corinthians.  I don't know why.  And I don't know if this was God's choice or mine.  But it seemed good to start there, and it was.

Lately I've been so fixated on finishing school and teaching that it's hard to keep my eyes on Jesus.  Really on him.  He's important in my life, but I don't think he is the center of my life.  And I have learned that me and my agenda become the center of my life, I lose my equilibrium.  Not right away, but gradually.  I stop loving wholeheartedly.  I get judgmental.  I lose patience.  I become anxious.

First Corinthians, with its discussions of the world's wisdom versus the power of God, establishes the priorities I want to have in my life.  Education and knowledge are valuable, but not as valuable as knowing God.

I've been reading the first three to five chapters for the last three days now, and I suppose I'll blog about some of those things, but I want to start with the beginning, which holds a sort of promise.

Let me paraphrase chapter 1, verses 4-9.  By the way, this is Paul speaking to the church at Corinth.
Through Christ, God has enriched you in every way, through eloquent words and knowledge.  And this confirms that everything you know about Jesus is true. You have every spiritual gift you need--some in your own life and some in the lives of people around you.  And God will keep you strong through the end of your life so that when you meet God the Father face to face, you won't be ashamed by the stuff you've done that's not pleasing, but you'll know that you are forgiven because of Jesus.  God has called you into fellowship with Jesus, and he is faithful to do all of this.  
I do get distracted sometimes.  Sometimes because of work hours or school projects.  Sometimes because of circumstances I don't like.  Sometimes because everything actually is going pretty well.

And I am not alone in this tendency to get distracted.
I am also not on my own.  None of us are.

As we live in community, relying on the spiritual gifts God has given us, as we rely on others in our circle and the gifts God has given them, we grow stronger.  We learn to listen to God's voice, through this community, through Scripture, through our hearts.

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