Points to Ponder: Are You Listening to God?
Points to Ponder
Are You Listening to God?
by Pastor Dennis Whitmore
I have been keeping a journal since I was 13 years old (just a few years ago). Journaling forces me to stop for 10 to 15 minutes a day to reflect on what's been going on in my life. Many of my mistakes and lessons learned are recorded there. Seeing the victories and defeats in my own handwriting makes me think. And God usually whispers commentary if I stop and listen. I have observed in my study of the spiritual greats of the past few centuries that most of them kept a journal (John Wesley, Francis Asbury, and Jim Eliot, to name a few).
Philip Yancey, my favorite author, writes about the spiritual "action plan" he received from God when he spent a day in quiet contemplation with his journal. Here are eight of those action points, in his own words, which he noted as guides for living the rest of his life.
* "Question your doubts as much as your faith. By personality, or perhaps as a reaction to a fundamental past, I brood on doubts and experience faith in occasional flashes. Isn't it about time for me to reverse the pattern?
* Do not attempt this journey alone. Find companions who see you as a pilgrim, even a straggler, and not as a guide. Like many Protestants, I easily assume the posture of one person alone with God, a stance that more and more I see as unbiblical. We have little guidance on how to live as a follower alone because God never intended it.
* Allow the good--natural beauty, your health, encouraging words--to penetrate as deeply as the bad. Why does it take around seventeen encouraging letters from readers to overcome the impact of one caustic, critical one? If I awoke every morning and fell asleep each night bathed in a sense of gratitude and not self-doubt, the hours in-between would doubtless take on a different cast.
* For your own sake, simplify. Eliminate whatever distracts you from God. Among other things, that means a ruthless winnowing of mail--giving catalogs, junk mail, and book club notices no more time than it takes to toss them in the trash. If I ever get the nerve, my television set should probably land there as well.
* Find something that allows you to feel God's pleasure. The sprinter Eric Liddell told his sister, "God made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure." What makes me feel God's pleasure? I must identify it and then run.
* Don't be ashamed. "I am not ashamed of the gospel," Paul told the Romans. Why do I speak in generalities when strangers ask me what I do for a living and then try to pin down what kind of books I write? Why do I mention the secular schools I attended before the Christian ones?
* Remember, those Christians who peeve you so much--God chose them too. For some reason, I find it much easier to show grace and acceptance toward immoral unbelievers than toward uptight, judgmental Christians. Which, of course, turns me into a different kind of uptight, judgmental Christian.
* "Forgive, daily, those who caused the wounds that keep you from wholeness. Increasingly, I find that our wounds are the very things God uses in His service. By harboring blame for those who cause them, I stall the act of redemption that can give the wounds worth and value, and ultimately healing." (From: Reaching for the Invisible God, p. 178-179)
Yancey admits that his insights came from within him, not from some audible, Heavenly Voice. But when we take time to shut up and listen, God will often use the stuff we already have stored up and "download" it into our conscious mind. God has been there every step of the way and, if we listen, He can teach us many things. Journaling is one way to do that.
Are you finding time (making time) every day to review your life and listen to the One who's been there all along the way? It's a point to ponder. It's a move we each can, and should, make.
This column can be found on the web at: www.fumcl.org and is downloaded for your reading pleasure. Pastor Whitmore is not affiliated with Picket News, nor does he submit any material directly to our publication. We regularly reprint interesting articles found at his public domain Web site and encourage all readers to visit this site to enjoy similar material.