THE ABIDING LIFE
Are you ready for the call?
By Gwen Sellers
It recently came to my attention that Isaiah "overheard" God's call. In My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers writes,
God did not address the call to Isaiah; Isaiah overheard God saying, "Who will go for us?" The call of God is not for the special few, it is for everyone.[…] God did not lay a strong compulsion on Isaiah; Isaiah was in the presence of God and he overheard the call, and realized that there was nothing else for him but to say, in conscious freedom, "Here am I, send me." […] If we let the Spirit of God bring us face to face with God, we too shall hear something akin to what Isaiah heard, the still small voice of God; and in perfect freedom will say, "Here am I; send me."I wonder how often I'm expecting God to, for lack of better terms, hit me over the head with clarity of purpose, an obvious and specific assignment that I know is His will for my life, instead of simply seeking His presence and responding in kind. Is an assignment really what I want, or would I rather know God and be known by Him? Am I waiting for God to burst into my life, or am I already enjoying His presence, primed to "overhear" what it is He has prepared for me (Ephesians 2:10)?
The spiritual disciplines are often brought up when talking about learning to be in the presence of God. Scholars who talk about spiritual formation suggest that the spiritual disciplines are, in coarse terms, a means to an end. They are nothing within themselves. Many warn against the dangers of spiritual disciplines if done legalistically or so as to earn God's favor or grace. A spiritually disciplined life is not the goal; knowing God is. The spiritual disciplines, then, are practices by which we might open ourselves to receive from God. Siang-Yang Tan refers to them as "voluntary brokenness," a way we remind ourselves that we are broken before God and in need of His filling. In practicing them, we intentionally position ourselves so as to "overhear" God.
Opinions on the spiritual disciplines vary. Some warn against the more ancient disciplines for fear they might lead into unbiblical mysticism. Others adamantly promote regular practice of the disciplines. Personally, studying them has both challenged and encouraged me. I realize that I've often reduced my concept of "spiritual discipline" to Bible reading and a prayer journal. I do it in the morning and it helps set my mind on God before starting the day. But, admittedly, it is sometimes more habitual than it is actual time with God. I may show up, but are my ears really open if God should choose to speak? The spiritual disciplines invite me into something more. They invite me into solitude and silence — dedicated time to simply be with God. They invite me to meditate on the Word. Not to view it academically or for information, but to chew on it and let it nourish me. They remind me that things like living simply can be a way to honor and know God. Delightfully, they also remind me that celebration is a spiritual discipline.
So what do the spiritual disciplines have to do with God's calling on my life? In some ways, they are my calling, or, rather, a way to carry out my calling. God is about relationship — a relationship in which we become more and more like Him as we come to know Him better and better (2 Corinthians 3:18). The spiritual disciplines are a practical way I can get to know God better. They're also a great way to position me to "overhear" God. If I'm consistently with God, I'll know what He's directing me to do. So rather than wait around for God to drop in, or anxiously try to find the call through intense introspection or busyness, I can just focus on knowing God better. Rather than worrying about what it is God wants me to do, I can enjoy the process of Him making me who He wants me to be. Rather than search for direction, I can rest with the Divine Author. God always beckons me first to Himself before entrusting me with any sort of task. And He never tasks me with something to do on my own, but always something that requires the enabling of His Holy Spirit and consistent fellowship with Him.
Tags: Christian-Life | Ministry-Church | Personal-Relationships
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Published on 2-3-14