Monday, December 30, 2013

Hearing God by Dallas Willard

Ah, it's been some time since I typed entries on a keyboard. Perhaps I should do this more often. Anyway, I chanced upon this book at a friend's house. Meiling had dozens of interesting titles on her shelf and this one caught my eye. I'd always wanted to know if I was hearing from God or if I was hearing from myself or from Satan, so I promptly asked if I could borrow it and she was so kind as to lend it to me.

Well, it did not disappoint.

One of the things that first hit me was this: that God doesn't speak to you on every single tiny detail of your life. He certainly can, but he most probably wouldn't. I am reminded of the analogy from a sermon Sy Rogers preached years ago. A father would be happy to see his child play with a doll. But when the child starts asking him, "Daddy should I play with the doll for 5 minutes or 15 minutes?" or "Daddy, should I braid her hair or change her clothes?" or "Daddy, should I make pretend to drink tea with her or pretend to go shopping with her?"

You get the idea.

Somehow along the way I'd gotten used to the idea that God does "A message a minute" like Dallas Willard puts it. When I read in the third chapter that He doesn't, I wrestled quite a bit with that. But I had to grudgingly accept the fact that it was probably true after checking in with God. *Wry smile*

What was especially helpful were the lectio divina exercises that were interspersed throughout the book. For those unfamiliar with it, the term is Latin for "divine reading" and in the book you would be guided on how to meditate on a portion of Scripture to receive what the Holy Spirit like to speak to you.

Finally, Chapter 8 proved really helpful. It talked in length about 3 ways we could know that God is speaking to us which are namely, circumstances, impressions of the Spirit and passages from the Bible. I'm reading through that chapter again to better understand it.

All in all, I would say that the book helped me realise that a conversation with God is first and foremost about knowing His heart. Perhaps this is best summed up by this poem from Frances Ridley Havergal that was in the book:

Silent in Love
Love culminates in bliss when it cloth reach
A white, unflickering, fear-consuming glow;
And, knowing it is known as it doth know,
Needs no assuring word or soothing speech.
It craves but silent nearness, so to rest,
No sound, no movement, love not heard but felt,
Longer and longer still, till time should melt,
A snowflake on the eternal ocean's breast.
Have moments of this silence starred thy past,
Made memory a glory-haunted place,
Taught all the joy that mortal ken can trace?
By greater light 'tie but a shadow cast―
So shall the Lord thy God rejoice o'er thee,
And in His love will rest, and silent be.

I would recommend this as a must read to every Christian because hearing from God is such a vital part of Christian living and neglecting it would lead to a much duller walk with the Lord.