Summary: Because God speaks in a variety of ways, it is important that we pay attention to the variety of ways that God is speaking to us through our life circumstances, scripture, prayer, etc.
In my experience, a significant part of living as a child of God is being attentive to life. It is in listening carefully and prayerfully to all the various sounds going on inside and around, to all the various voices and calls, to all the various situations and circumstances, to the thoughts and emotions both within and without. And then trying to hear and see where God is working, what whispers are from God, how He is nudging or prodding or leading. It is sort of a “collect and synthesize” exercise, simply about being attentive to life and trying to see God in the middle of it all.
Now that is no way an alternative to being attentive to God in Scripture. Indeed, if we only do the listening to God through reflecting on life we are the people Paul describes in Rom 1: “20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. 21 Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. 22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. 23 And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.”
So as I talk about attentiveness to God in life, that must, absolutely must, be hand-in-hand with our attentiveness to God as He speaks through His word. In fact, it makes it more important to be in God’s word and grounded in God’s word or we will very quickly and easily “think up foolish ideas” and easily become “dark and confused”. The emotions we feel in life and in attentiveness to life are powerful, but they are not truth. The thoughts we think in life and in attentiveness to life are powerful, but they are not truth. God’s word is truth, and through God’s word we have the only tools for being properly attentive to God in our lives.
With that very clearly in front of us, let me return to the original thought, of being attentive to life, and I hope you will indulge me a bit as I share some personally and some corporately.
As I seek to be attentive to life, here are some of the “swirls” I identify and am listening to:
• “I am doing a new thing”
• Experiencing God’s glory
• Leadership Summit
• “the bottom 1/8th of the tank”; Sabbath and rest
• light on a hill
Obviously, the single largest item has been the repair of our facility, which continues to near completion. And as we emerge from the crisis, the conversation is beginning to shift to the “what is God doing through this?” reflection. Ken and I had numerous conversations over the past few days along these line, as he and I continue to steward the completion, and we agreed that this event has been sort of a defining moment (if a “moment” can last for more than a year!). The Leadership Summit caused us to reflect on a few specific questions, like “how can we make sure we leverage this event for the glory of God and the growth of His Kingdom”; or “what would be the worst case scenario going forward”. The key questions, yet to be answered, are along the lines of “God, what are You doing/wanting to do through this?”
What does Scripture have to do with our repair? A lot, actually. In my study and reflection on God’s glory, I’ve been struck by the story of the building of the tabernacle in Exodus. It is a very long section of Exodus, it begins in chapter 25 and doesn’t end until chapter 40 (though it isn’t all about the building of the tabernacle, there are a few other incidents mingled in, that is the major theme of the whole section). Finally, at the end of chapter 40, here is what we read: “So at last Moses finished the work. 34 Then the cloud covered the Tabernacle, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle. 35 Moses could no longer enter the Tabernacle because the cloud had settled down over it, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle. 36 Now whenever the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out on their journey, following it. 37 But if the cloud did not rise, they remained where they were until it lifted. 38 The cloud of the Lord hovered over the Tabernacle during the day, and at night fire glowed inside the cloud so the whole family of Israel could see it. This continued throughout all their journeys.”