Life 103

Saturday, May 20, 2006

listening life

When you believe that God still speaks, that his connection with humanity didn’t die with the last of the Apostles, it’s an interesting journey to the place where you can not only sense his presence but also admit it to someone else. As for me, I had to decide if I really wanted to. Even as a kid I could sense the Spirit in music, nature and silence but my generation witnessed its fair share of religious nuts, one of which led 900 people to their death in Guyana in 1978, and one result of that has been that indications that you might be hearing from God are cause for alarm.

All the same, as a Friend and from personal experience, I know that Christ does speak to individuals in that same ‘still small’ voice he used with Elijah. When we listen, really listen, we get a sense of who God is and what he is calling us to do and be. When we listen, we hear God’s truthful voice and it shapes us, transforms us, and impacts our path, always directing us toward something beautiful, good and wise.

The Listening Life ministry I have been privileged to be involved with this year has been an amazing experiment in, well, listening. About a year ago, three of us listened (to Christ, each other and to some wiser hearts) then decided that we could create a spiritual formation small group experience for our church that moves in sync with the sermon series. Since our pastor and worship planning team put an enormous amount of time and energy into the gathered worship services (listen to one here) each week, we three wanted others to come to worship prepared to listen to the Spirit and have people they could talk to about what they heard. So we gathered a team of writers who take turns writing materials ahead of the gathering and five Listening Life small groups convened last fall.

In just my little group, I’ve heard God speak peace to one, draw another one step closer to a foreign mission field, be a healing balm to another’s wounded soul, give more than one a bit of reassurance for the future, and talk to us all during gathered worship at one time or another. We came to know each other deeply and care about each other’s unique and beautiful stories. The first night we met, one wise member said that he felt the Spirit connecting us like a cord through each one’s heart. Our final meeting was last week and we made bookmarks by stringing beautiful glass beads, each one uniquely different and representing a member of the group, on a cord as a way of affirming and remembering each person. These particular people may never be physically together again but we share bonds of community, love and friendship that will continue regardless.

As the groups draw to a close for the summer now, it’s time to take stock. As leaders, we’re asking ourselves: When did we experience Christ? What did we hear? What is he calling us to next? God hasn’t answered these questions all at once but because we’re committed to pay attention as we live, work, play and serve together…we’ll know soon enough.

Check out our Listening Life website and let us know what you think.


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