One of the first things I did when I started working with Storyline last February was to think through what we call an annual growth plan. The annual growth plan is focused on your own spiritual health and vitality. A good word to descibe the goal of the annual growth plan is sabbath. We need times for reflection, rest, and retreat. With the busyness of our world and our churches, if we don’t plan times for sabbath, then we probably won’t get them. This plan has helped me to think through four different kinds of sabbath based on how often they take place (annually, monthly, weekly, daily). One of the monthly rhythms of sabbath I have been trying to establish is a personal retreat day when I can get away from the distractions of email, cell phones, facebook, projects, meetings, etc. and spend time with God. I spend time praying, reading, journaling, walking, and listening.
August was the first month I had actually taken this day for sabbath. I went out to a linear park behind my house that runs alongside Fish Creek here in Grand Prairie. I spent time reading scripture and praying and journaling. I also went on about a four mile walk along the creek and had a fantastic experience talking and listening to God. I also believe I received a word from the Lord. As we have been trying to listen to God for our next steps in church planting, I was asking God how I will know when I have his go ahead to start really pressing into that next work. I did not hear God turning me loose yet. But I do have better sense of how I will know when that time arrives. I came home that afternoon and shared what I heard with Amy. She seemed to think that what I heard sounded like something that would be from God. So we are continung to listen together with a little more confidence as to how God will reveal his plans for us in the future.
This experience has left me wanting to spend more time listening to God and I have been trying to do that. But spiritual listening is not easy. I’m learning and reading that God is not the only voice trying to be heard as we listen. Often times our own voice (our wishes and desires) speaks pretty loudly to us. There are also other spiritual forces who are working contrary to the will of God. I think this is why it is so important to listen in community with other believers and through scripture. These have been helpful tools for me to listen in the past. My sense is that spiritual listening needs to be a foundational part of my life through my church planting residency and beyond into whatever future God calls me to. Thanks to all of you who have been and will be good filters for me to discern the voice of God in my life.