A step towards Abounding in Hope

When we ran a wilderness thing in the mountains, we had a fun little game we’d play on our ropes course.  These adventure courses and team building are, to be blunt, a little cliche these days. As a result, very few people were interested in just climbing rope ladders, jumping off poles, and falling backwards into some outstretched arms.

To make things more exciting, we had our over-confident participants do the ropes course blindfolded.  They’d climb the rope ladder and the put on a blind fold and navigate the rest of the course by listening to voices from the ground.  But down on the ground, we had every voice but one shouting lies; telling the blind girl to move left when she should go right, or to reach higher when she really needed to squat down.  Always, though, there was one voice that was the true one.  And always, one she heard the true voice she was home free, able to quiet the lying voices by listening closely for the truth in the midst of noise, and responding to that.

“My sheep hear my voice and they follow me” is what the Bible says, and God knows that it needs to be true because there are plenty of other voices out there telling us lies.  We’re told that we are what we own, that we are what we wear, that we are our % of body fat, that we are who we sleep with, where we travel, what music we listen to.  Those voices are all, to be polite, rubbish.

There’s one voice that matters, and it’ the voice that tells me who I am because of the reality of Christ.  Though I could argue with a few details, I like the list presented here that reminds me of my identity in Christ.  I have a similar list sitting on my desk at work, and read it often to remind me of who I really am.  Listening to God remind me that in Christ I’m filled, whole, adequate, deeply loved, is significant for me because I struggle with inadequacy and self-doubt, and am prone to disengagement from all things meaningful because of this.  The good news though, is that when I listen for the voice of the Good Shepherd and thank Him for these fundamental truths, I find the very thing of which I speak in yesterday’s sermon:  encouragement in the scriptures.  The fruit of this is hope, as I spoke of yesterday, and as Matthew Parris wrote about here.

Learn to listen for God’s voice in the midst of the cacophony that’s raging.  Hear it.  Believe it.  Find increasing freedom.  Abound in Hope.

Cheers

Feel free to share habits you’ve developed to listen for God’s voice in your own life.  Thanks.

About Richard Dahlstrom

As Pastor of Bethany Community Church in Seattle, Richard teaches with vision of "making the invisible God visible" by calling people to acts of service and blessing. It's working, as a wilderness ministry, homeless shelter, and community meals that serve those living on the margins are all pieces of Bethany's life. "We're being the presence of Christ" he says, "and inviting everyone to join the adventure." Many have, making Bethany one of the fastest growing churches in America in 2009 according to Outreach Magazine.

  • http://brokentelegraph.wordpress.com Ian, for The Broken Telegraph

    Richard I will say again that my wife and I (now a month “old” to your church) are finding great guidance and conviction in your teachings. So many thanks.

    I can’t use the word “developed” because that sortof implies a mastery of something, but I am “developing” some habits to listen to God. It’s part of the rule of life that I’ve committed to thanks to bethany’s pamphlet. My bus ride into work from Magnolia to Belltown is a 1/2 hour and I used to just read during this time. Now, 3 times a week, I’m taking the opportunity to close my eyes (which doesn’t stand out as many other riders are nearly asleep on the ride into work), pray to God with thanksgiving and praise and just listen. Sometimes, I’ll add earplugs to quiet out the ambient humm.

    It’s a challenge because, I live in a small 2-bedroom apartment with my wife and our 6 year old daughter, while the bus route passes blocks and blocks of million and a half dollar homes in some of the most picturesque neighborhoods in greater Seattle. It’s like a parade of everything fabulous. It makes me laugh a bit, because I used to spend this time comparing myself to the things out the window, and adding to the list of things I don’t yet have but *clearly deserve* wink wink. Now, the challenge is not blocking out the view outside, but to surrender my heart and mind in thanksgiving to Christ and to listen to him and learn to follow Him rather than my own competitive nature and desire for wealth. This practice has already brought greater joy and freedom to my life and relationship with God.