When my sponsor in Overeaters Anonymous suggested that I write letters to God every morning before I started my day, I thought that sounded easy enough. I would just put “Dear God” as a heading and continue with the saga of my dramatic troubles. Then came the advice to listen specifically for God’s voice and direction in my life, and I got nervous. There are plenty of examples of people who claim to have heard God’s voice, and many of those stories result in hate, hypocrisy, and picketing lines. I was afraid I would mishear or misinterpret, should God decide to speak to me at all.
After extensive experimentation with daily letter-writing, however, I do believe that there are certain practices and principles we can adopt in order to make way for God’s truth to intervene in our busy brains. The hardest part – for me – is still quieting my mind. Most conversations require that each party takes a turn of silent listening, so that is what I have to start with. As Stuart Briscoe says, “God is a gentleman,” meaning that He does not impose Himself unwanted and unasked. For the most part.
I need a time and space alone so I can listen, and mornings work best for me. I wake up before my partner and write at our little kitchen table with the reptile lamp that simulates sunlight. Coffee helps dramatically. The dog comes and dutifully curls up next to me. There are lots of excuses I first came up with and still do, on occasion, but my day and my life run on my priorities and wisdom always falls short of what it could have been, perhaps. Matthew 6:33 in the NASB says to ” seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you,” which I interpret as going to God before I try to accomplish anything else. There are exceptions, but we are talking about the norm. Now that I follow my morning routine regularly, I miss it when I miss it.
The next principle is difficult for me, as well, because it is a matter of my core beliefs. If I want to hear God and not my own words in disguise, I have to want to hear whatever He might say. That is scary because God might tell me that a part of my life or some habit of mine will not work if I want to follow Him. Once He says so, we have to make a choice, and if we cannot bring ourselves to do what He asks then we sense a distance growing between us. God’s voice and God’s truth are not convenient. He works best with empty, sinking ships whose sailors have thrown all cargo overboard. In other words, God can make the most of our lives when we are desperate. This idea is the foundation of Step One in Alcoholics Anonymous, where an addict must come to an understanding that his life is a failure when he insists on getting his own way. We try to direct our lives with a self-centered rudder and selfish ego – the heavy cargo on our ship – and God cannot intervene should we cling to the helm.
This is not the end, but a beginning – a frightening beginning, for many, but one that can change our lives and redirect our paths. It is worth it, every morning.