¿Habla español?

When Losing is Gaining part 2

As promised last week I am back to talk more about the practical ways I was able to lean up against the awkwardness of questioning God's voice in my life.  Now if you're looking for a "how to hear and discern the voice of God in your life" this is not that blog...sorry not sorry!
Honestly, if you have someone in your life telling you how to hear God's voice, and what he's saying to you,  my advice is to run like the wind away from that!  It has been my experience that God speaks to different people differently; what may work for some doesn't work for others.  Unfortunately, there is not a user manual when trying to hear God's voice in our lives.

 I personally think this is intentional, especially for me in my own walk.  If I had some sort of direct line, or rote combination to hear God's voice, where would the learning be?  Where would the seeking be?  And most importantly, where would the need for faith be? I love the authenticity of coming to God as we are.  Like Christ we can, with confidence, approach God in prayer, even in our weakness. This is how it says it in Scripture:
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us, therefore, come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 
Hebrews 4:15-16 NIV

With this scripture in mind, I began my quest, knowing that I was allowed to stumble along my way.  Though, this thought of imperfection and uncertainty was against everything I had previously known to be true. I remember reading about Paul in Sunday school as a little girl.  In the back of my Bible was a map charting his whole journey.  In my mind, his whole walk was mapped out, every step right there.  There was no questioning, no uncertainty, just that neat yellow line.  And the title of that map was The Apostle Paul's Ministry.  That silly little girl thought, "certainly if Paul got a map to follow so will I."  Friends, I am 47 years old, and STILL haven't gotten my map!

Instead of a map, I have found wise counsel that I trust from people who are a little further down the road than me.  If I were numbering points this would be my number one.  I know this sounds a little contradictory to my previous advice but let me explain.  Those with wise counsel will always lead by example and, instead of giving you answers, explore the questions with you.  For me, I have been blessed to be surrounded by family and dear friends with whom I can wrestle over these questions.  Oftentimes, they have pressed up against the same questions in the quiet spaces of their own lives, which is always reassuring to hear since my default thought is that nobody else is going through this.

Another good tool I found was to allow myself to sit with the questions as they arose.  In the past, I had tried to quickly dismiss any questions that pressed up against my faith.  But, as I mentioned in last week's blog, after some inner work I realized that I was defining some of my cherished ideals as truth.  The mistake was that ideals can be colored by culture, religious affiliation, and sometimes even political views; the real truth is unchanged by these things.  A simple exercise I did involved making two lists:
  • the things I believed when I was a kid
  • the things I know to be true now
To my surprise a lot of things that were on the first list did not make it to the second list.  I saw that, as my faith matured, I began to realize that the dualistic approach to the gospel just didn't work anymore.  So many times in the gospels we see Jesus take a ‘both-and’ approach.  And once the fire of ask, seek, and knock burned away the untrue, only the simplicity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ remained.  Like I mentioned before, this process was very uncomfortable, and I confess that it still is.  But, as evident in the Gospels, nothing about following Jesus is comfortable.  

Next, pursuing community in this space is crucial, I talked about this last week but I feel like it is important enough to state again.  My go-to in situations like these has been to completely withdraw from others until I knew the answer.  As we explored last week, Jesus models a completely different way.  Away from the masses, but in the presence of his true followers, Jesus delivered what some may say is the most controversial sermon of his ministry.  In what we now call the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus encouraged his disciples to wrestle with the law of Moses and offered his followers the gospel of grace.  

Of course as I was asking, seeking, and knocking I turned to the Bible and prayer.  I did however take a different approach that I had taken before.  My prayers went from making personal requests known to sitting in a contemplative space and quietly allowing questions to rise to the surface of my heart.  Honestly, I still have questions and I don't have definitive answers to most of them.  What I am finding is that, if I am quiet enough, God's grace is louder than any question that may trouble my heart. It is from this posture that I am learning to live with the unanswered and beginning to know the test of my faith produces perseverance.

If you find yourself in this space, my encouragement is to embrace the awkward!  Ignatian Spirituality describes it in this manner, 'agere contra' which literally means to go against or act against.  Of course the question arises what are we going against?   And the answer is our own certitude to the environment around us. We see Jesus do this several times in the Gospels:  when he met the lady at the well, or with the woman caught in adultery, or even when he encountered the women with the issue of blood.  Time and time again Jesus practiced agere contra (or embraced the awkward) and in doing so he changed the hearts and minds of many.

When we agere contra, we open ourselves to authenticity and are more able to clearly hear the voice of God. If I may, I'd like to end with a simple question you might sit with this week: How can you agere contra or embrace the awkward in your life? It doesn't have to be big, like so many things, starting small can have great rewards.

No Comments



1 Kings 12 Days of Christmas 20 minutes 2020 Acts Adonai American way America Antelope Valley Apostle Paul Apostle's Creed Bibile Bible study Bible Birmingham Book of Acts But God COVID-19 COVID Calvary Charlies Angels Christian Voter Guide Christian home Christmas Church Colossians Communication Confessional Prayer Corinthians Dallas Willard David Devotional Doing Life Together Eastertide Easter Ecclesiastes Emmanuel Ephesians Epiphany Esther Father in Heaven Father's Day Father Galatians God With Us God first God is good God of peace God still Moved God's Will God\'s Will Good Friday Gospel of John Gospel of Luke Gospel of Mark Gospel of Matthew Happy Father's Day Hawaii Hebrews Holy Spirit Hosea How are you doing How to Pray I want that Instagram Isaiah 43 Isaiah James Brown James Jenna Bush Hagar Jeremiah 29:11 Jeremiah Jesus John 3:16 John Hughes John Wesley John Judy Garland King David Kingdom Come Kingdom of God Leadership Lectio Divina Light of the World Lord Love is Love your neighbor Luke MLK Malachi Mama Bear Mark Martin Luther King Jr. Mary Matthew Memorial Day Merry Christmas Micah 6:8 Micah Molly Ringwald Monday Night Manna Mother Hen Mothers Day Nancy Drew Nehemiah New Testament Old Testament Only God Knows Paul Pentecost Peter Philippians Prince Phillip Prince of Peace Proverbs 13 Proverbs Psalm 10 Psalm 139 Psalm 23 Psalm 40 Psalm 42 Psalm 46 Psalms of Joy Pursuing the Presence of God Queen Elizabeth Revelation Romans Ruth Haley Barton Savior Sermon Sheridan Voysey Son of God Son of Man Son Spider Man Sunday School Surprised by Joy TV Target Thanksgiving The Free Market The Lord's Prayer The Sound of Music Timothy Titanic Today Show Twelfth Night Veggietales Voter Guide Wizard of Oz Women in Leadership Women of Faith Women's Bible Study abide abstain accused act justly action adoration adventure advice advocate afraid allelon alone anchor anger answers anxiety app art ask attack authority awe awkward back to school balance baptism be kind be open be prepared be still and know beaten and condemned beauty and struggle beauty belief believe belonging betrayed by a kiss betrayed black friday blackbelt blameless bleeding woman blessed blessing blog body bond bookmark book boundaries breadsticks broken brotherhood burden butter called by God called by name called carbs care cause celebrate centered in Christ challenges change childbirth children choice choosejoy choose christian christ chronic illness church nerd alert church online citizen civil rights clean hearts cleaning comfort comment community compassion into action compassion compost confession of faith confession conflict resolution conflict confusion connection connect consumer culture contemplative prayer conversation with God conversation corruption court tv court creation creative juice creativity cross crucified and kind crucified crucify dad dating daughtership daughters death defense delight denied depression differently abled disabled discernment discipleship discipline discovery discrimination distracted divine divinity do good do the action donate doughnuts dreams dream early church eating disorder eden election emotional health emotions empathy encouragement endurance enjoy enough excess expectations failure faithfulness faith fall family dynamics family fun family of God family systems family fangirl fasting fast favorite scripture favorite things fear feel find and follow Jesus fine flexible forgiveness forgive free time freedom free friendship friends fruit funeral fun future gaining faith galaxy garden generations generosity genesis gift give it away give life giving goals god good news good shepherd gospels gospel government grace of God grace grass is always greener gratitude gravy great cloud of witnesses green bean casserole green thumb grief grieve grit groups growth ham hangover happiness harmony harsh truth head healing healthy habit heart sick heart help holding tight holidays holiday homeless homeostasis homeschool honor hope deferred hope how the Lord speaks how to read scripture how to talk about loss how to worship how to humanity human humility humor innocent inspiration intercessory prayer intimacy introvert invitation isolation join journal journey joy just believe justice kids kindness kind kingdom of heaven knock lament laughter learn lent let it be life together light listen live loneliness longing losing faith loss love in action love mercy love story love the Lord love loving like Jesus magi map marathon march marginalized marriage mashed potatoes meditation memorial memories mental health mentalhealthmonth messiah momlife mom motivated by joy mourn moved with compassion move mystery navigate need neighbors neighbor new beginning new normal new season new year newlywed news new nickname normal not alone not easy note to self nothing but joy nourishment now and not yet nowandnotyet nurse offering one body online overflowing with gratitude pain pandemic parenting parents pastor patience patient peacemaker peacemaking peace perseverance personal prayer perspectives perspective petition phillipians pity planted by water plan play something podcast politics potatoes practice of confession practicing gratitude pray for pastors pray without ceasing prayer request prayerwarrior prayer praying praywithoutceasing pray preach prepare presence of God present priortize prize promise of God promise prophetic psalms psalm purpose quarantine questioning God questions quiet race read reconciliation reconnect recovery reevaluate reflect regather regret rejoice relationships relationship remember repentance repost research resilience resources respect rest resurrection retreat rhythms riot road to the cross roles routine ruby slippers rules sabbath sacred sadness safe at home safe salvation scalloped potatoes schedule scripture about justice scriptures about fear scriptures about joy scriptures about peace scriptures about race scriptures scripture searching seasons season seek self-care self-denial self-differentiation serve serving share shelter at home shepherds signs silence simple pleasures single dad single mom single parent sing sinking sink slowly smile sober social distancing social media soil solitude sonship soul care soul music spiritual disciplines spiritual health spiritual practices spirit spring stars starting point star stayathome still good stop and look up storm storytelling streams of water strength stress struggleisreal study success sudden suffering of Christ suffering summer support surrender take heart talking with kids teacher tears technology template thank God the truth is out there the truth will set you free the way the truth and the life theology thessalonians think thisistheday time tithe to be honest together traditions transformed transition trauma treasure tree of life trials trust and obey trust in the Lord trust truth turkey understanding unfailing love unity universe vacation vice president virtual voices volunteer vote vulnerable waiting waking up walk humbly we cannot go back weather wedding welcome welcoming prayer wisdom wise counsel woman at the well woman caught in adultery women pastors women wonder worry worship yield youmatter zoom