WHEN GOD SPEAKS
I do not claim to have ever heard the voice of God, at least not audibly. How great would that be… though maybe a bit terrifying. I guess it depends on what God says. I believe it is possible that God speaks audibly to people, but deep down I doubt it. In my expereince, God speaks in many ways. Sometimes it is when I turn off the noise of the world and sit quietly. other times it comes through the noise, and often through a conversation with a friend.
When I am writing or thinking about a sermon, it comes through a familiar voice in the back of my head. Sometimes it is my mothers voice telling me to be kind. Sometimes it is one of my Mentors like Frank Janzow who taught me to be gentle or Lowell Timm who taught me to check my assumptions. Often it is a scripture verse I learned as a child or one I remember from last year. I also hear the voices of Rob Bell, Brian MacLaren, Phyllis Tickle, John Dominic Crossan and Kelly Brown Douglass from books I have read.
Each week I meet with a small group from each church to read through the upcoming scriptures for Sunday and get to hear their perspectives. I attend a pastors text study where we share our ideas and insights, along with the joys and sorrows of ministry. These insights marinate all week in my mind, and help me to see God speaking though my interactions the rest of the week.
I hear quite clearly the voice of my Pastor, Christie Melby Gibbons, from our conversations and from her sermons. My friend Jesse reminds me to write and speak inclusively. I see the faces of people at church who represent the joys and struggles of life. They cause me to think carefully about how, what I say or write, will connect with their lives. There are even a fair amount of critics who I argue with as I am processing. Ultimately, each one of these combine along with my life experiences, to guide me to new places and new ideas. I call this process, the working of God’s Spirit.
I realize that this is not a perfect process. It is highly contextual and reflects the quality of the people and things I put in my life. I try to offer my thoughts and ideas with humility and try to avoid absolutes and certainties. I am sure I overuse the words, often, sometimes and maybe, in an attempt to keep open conversation to other possibilities. I am thankful for all the great feedback I have received from those of you who have entered into this process. The Christian landscape is changing quickly and the Church is in desperate need of renewal. Let us be guided by hearing God’s familiar whisper of truth.