Do you ever feel like you are just leaving voice mail for God? Does your conversation with God seem one side? The Podcast in my article, Finding Bam!!!, addresses some of the common obstacles to seeing, hearing, and experiencing God. I am going to unpack the core of that podcast here for those who aren’t audio listeners. First, a brief confession.
P’s in the Pod–Refers to Principles in the Podcast. I realized recently that in my prior podcasts I wrote just enough to invite people into listening without giving away the content of the podcast. I guess I didn’t want anyone “cheating” and reading instead of listening after working hard to put together an audio resource. I realized yesterday though that this is the wrong attitude. I want whatever I have to share as accessible to you as I can make it so I am going to start extracting a summary of the core principles in every broadcast. I am doing this for those of you who prefer reading or want a visual reference as a quick reminder of what they heard. P’s in a Pod are the Cliff notes of my podcast. It won’t be everything, but it will be the core. I still highly recommend you listen.
The Podcast–Visible Signs of Invisible Grace
I have been on a quest to connect to God. I have been striving to experience the mystery of God as a reality in my daily life for over 25 years. Certain aspects of my request remind me of exploring nature when I was a child. Specifically, on my grandparents farm I had a secret spot of the creek I used visit. The water was like a mysterious other world. I used to like to stand very still in the middle and stare in at all of the minnows, crawdads and beautiful rocks. There were two things I found that could obscure my vision–movement and muck.
Movement–When I moved too quickly in the creek it disturbed the surface and I couldn’t clearly discern what was beneath the top. It was very beautiful to look at but rather meaningless or confusing. Seeing God in my life is a similar experience. When I move too quickly through life I either miss God all together or only get fleeting incomprehensible glimpses. I typically only see God clearly when I slow down. Two practices help me pause–A daily quiet time and frequently consciously turning my attention toward God throughout the day.
Muck--In my creek, if I didn’t move right I would disturb the bottom of my pretty little spring fed creek and nasty dark clouds of silty muck would billow up, obstructing my view. I have three forms of muck in my spiritual life. They are:
- Sin. Sinning erects a wall up between God and me. That wall limits my hearing and understanding of God. Confessing my sins tears down that wall. Not sinning in the first place would be far better.
- Distraction. I listen to too many voices. All of us are bombarded with voices. We are surrounded with media. We have expectations pulling upon us from our jobs, families, friends and community. Let’s not forget our own voice. I am too easily distracted by these voices. I sharpen my ability to hear God’s voice over the clamor by stepping apart to listen to just God’s voice. That time apart gives me both an uninterrupted time of listening and trains my voice to hear God even when other voices are very loud.
- Unfinished business. God seems strangely quiet when he has instructed me to do something and I haven’t done it yet. I am not necessarily talking about having some big voice from the sky type of experience, but instead those experiences of read scripture or hearing a sermon and something really speaking to me. If I don’t act on those things and keep asking for more, I usually don’t get much. Truth be told unfinished business is just another form of sin. Unfinished business is a euphemism for disobedience.
When heaven meets earth
These were the core discipleship principles in the podcast. The title for the podcast came from an observation that was new to me. The text was about Jesus baptism. During his baptism the sky opened, the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove and God declared, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” In the gospel of Mark the language about the sky opening up is much more dynamic than in the gospel of Luke. The verb used in Mark refers to ripping or tearing something in two. Mark tells us that the heavens were ripped open. The only other place where that verb for ripping occurs in the Gospels is at Jesus death when the the temple curtain tears in two and lays open the Holy of Holies, the place where the high priest came to be face to face with God. The Holy of Holies in essence was a place where the mystery of the heavens connected with the earth. Another declaration was made when the fabric between heaven and earth was torn open at Jesus crucifixion. A roman century declared, “Truly this man was the son of God.”
I find it wondrous that the two times when the fabric between heaven and earth are torn open and God is made tangibly, undeniably real, to us, are those times that relate to God’s gift of sacraments to us. In baptism and communion we experience a tangible visible moment of experiencing God’s invisible grace. We remember and participate in a moment when God’s heavenly reality collides with our earthly living. Praise God for giving us these gifts.
Well I hope these are helpful observations on obstacles. Note that not all silence of God is necessarily rooted in you doing something wrong. Sometimes God is just quiet.
For those who missed the podcast click here or use the embedded player below.