Excerpt from Hearing God

Hear­ing God

This book is writ­ten for those who already believe there is a per­son­al God, present through­out our world and con­cerned about what becomes of us. It does not attempt to prove that there is such a God, though what it says may help open-mind­ed peo­ple find him for themselves.

The main point is that God has cre­at­ed us for inti­mate friend­ship with him­self, both now and for­ev­er. This is the Chris­t­ian view­point.… As with close per­son­al rela­tion­ships in gen­er­al, we may count on God to speak to each of us when and as it is appropriate.…

Our strat­e­gy will be to take the high­est and best type of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and guid­ance we know of from human affairs. We then place these in the even brighter light of the per­son and teach­ing of Jesus Christ. In this way we arrive at our mod­el, or ide­al pic­ture,” of what divine guid­ance is meant to be.

To take this pic­ture seri­ous­ly is to exclude all tricks, mechan­i­cal for­mu­las, and gim­mick­ry for find­ing out what God wants me to do.” Indeed the intent here is to make it clear that the sub­ject of divine guid­ance sim­ply can­not be suc­cess­ful­ly treat­ed in terms of what God wants us to do if that auto­mat­i­cal­ly excludes, as is usu­al­ly assumed, what we want to do, and even what we want God to do.

Being in the will of God is very far removed from just doing what God wants us to do, … The seri­ous inquir­er after divine guid­ance still must nev­er for­get that we could even do all the par­tic­u­lar things God wants and com­mands us to do and still not be the per­son he would have us to be (pp. x‑xii).

The Spir­it of the Disciplines

The mod­ern age is an age of rev­o­lu­tion— rev­o­lu­tion moti­vat­ed by insight into the appalling vast­ness of human suf­fer­ing and need. Pleas for holi­ness and attacks on sin and Satan were used for cen­turies as the guide and the cure for the human sit­u­a­tion. Today such pleas have been replaced with a new agen­da. On the com­mu­nal lev­el, polit­i­cal and social cri­tiques yield recipes for rev­o­lu­tion meant to lib­er­ate humankind from its main bondages. And on the indi­vid­ual lev­el var­i­ous self-ful­fill­ment tech­niques promise per­son­al rev­o­lu­tions bring­ing free­dom in an unfree world” and pas­sage into the good life. Such are mod­ern answers to humanity’s woes.

Against this back­ground a few voic­es have con­tin­ued to empha­size that the cause of the dis­tressed human con­di­tion, indi­vid­ual and social — and its only pos­si­ble cure — is a spir­i­tu­al one.… But if the cure is spir­i­tu­al, how does mod­ern Chris­tian­i­ty fit into the answer? Very poor­ly, it seems, for Chris­tians are among those caught up in the sor­row­ful epi­dem­ic just referred to. And that fact is so promi­nent that mod­ern think­ing has come to view the Chris­t­ian faith as pow­er­less, even some­how archa­ic, at the very least irrelevant.…

Chris­tian­i­ty can only suc­ceed as a guide for cur­rent human­i­ty if it does two things.… First it must take the need for human trans­for­ma­tion as seri­ous­ly as do mod­ern rev­o­lu­tion­ary move­ments.… Sec­ond, it needs to clar­i­fy and exem­pli­fy real­is­tic meth­ods of human trans­for­ma­tion.… My cen­tral claim is that we can become like Christ by doing one thing — by fol­low­ing him in the over­all style of life he chose for him­self (pp. viii-ix).

The Divine Conspiracy

[Jesus’] basic mes­sage, Rethink your life in the light of the fact that the king­dom of the heav­ens is now open to all” (Matt. 4:17), presents the resources need­ed to live human life as we all auto­mat­i­cal­ly sense it should be and nat­u­ral­ly leads one to become his stu­dent, or appren­tice in king­dom liv­ing.… If I am to be someone’s appren­tice, there is one absolute­ly essen­tial con­di­tion. I must be with that per­son. This is true of the stu­dent-teacher rela­tion­ship in all gen­er­al­i­ty. And it is pre­cise­ly what it meant to fol­low Jesus when he was here in human form. To fol­low him meant, in the first place, to be with him.…

A dis­ci­ple, or appren­tice, is sim­ply some­one who has decid­ed to be with anoth­er per­son, under appro­pri­ate con­di­tions, in order to become capa­ble of doing what that per­son does or to become what that per­son is.… And as a dis­ci­ple of Jesus I am with him, by choice and by grace, learn­ing from him how to live in the king­dom of God.… I am not nec­es­sar­i­ly learn­ing to do every­thing he did, but I am learn­ing how to do every­thing I do in the man­ner that he did all that he did.

That my actu­al life is the focus of my appren­tice­ship to Jesus is cru­cial.… I am learn­ing from Jesus how to lead my life, my whole life, my real life.… The cul­ti­va­tion of one­self, one’s fam­i­ly, one’s work­place and com­mu­ni­ty — espe­cial­ly the com­mu­ni­ty of believ­ers — becomes the cen­ter of focus for the apprentice’s joint life with his or her teacher. It is with this entire con­text in view that we most rich­ly and accu­rate­ly speak of learn­ing from [Jesus] how to lead my life as he would lead my life if he were I” (pp. 274, 276, 282 – 83285).

Excerpts tak­en from The Spir­it of the Dis­ci­plines (Harper­One, 1998), Hear­ing God(Inter­var­si­ty Press, 1999), and The Divine Con­spir­a­cy (Harper­One, 1997) and used with permission.

PC: Hay­atiKay­han

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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