I’ve realized (and you’ll see the irony shortly) that you can hear something over and over and over again, but it doesn’t mean anything unless you listen to it.
I’m thinking: “if you just cut out sweets, you’ll thin down and tone up.”
“If you do your homework on time, it’ll make your life easier.”
“If you save a dollar a day, that’s better than nothing.”
“You can hear something over and over again, but you have to listen.”
I’ve realized that’s how hearing God works.
In the last year (as has been well-chronicled in this blog) I have desperately attempted to hear the voice of God, and it occurred to me the measures I’ve taken to do so.
I’ve taken countless walks.
Listened to worship music.
Listened to music that wasn’t worship.
Cried with my sister over beers at the tap room.
Jumped into this church and that.
Avoided my hometown (to hear Him in a new place.)
Ran to my hometown for comfort (to hear Him in a familiar place.)
Cried at the sight of lamp-posts.
Vowed silence and avoided technology in my own home to foster creativity.
Welcomed a TV and some well-received distractions in the form of a PlayStation 3.
I know it sounds weird – all of those things are an attempt to hear God? in a hyper-spiritual sense, no. The hyper-spiritual answer is to hear God by reading your Bible and praying, and that’s all.
But the realist in me says that everything is an attempt to find familiar footing, or to find footing that can become familiar.
That version of me says that an emotional night spent crying with my sister at the bar just down the street from my apartment is an attempt to fight the chaos going on within my own heart and to grasp that sometimes-elusive peace that surpasses all understanding. It says that sometimes reliving painful memories or joyful memories is evaluative tactic to figure out what went wrong, or what worked.
Because that common ground, that stability, that peace – that’s God, isn’t it? Isn’t that who He is? Isn’t that what He’s like?
God is light, and in Him is no darkness. [1 John 1:5.]
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. [Hebrews 13:8.]
it is You who light my lamp, the Lord my God lightens the darkness [Psalm 18:28.]
To me, the pursuit of happiness, of peace, of light, and of goodness, is the same thing as the pursuit of God, and vice versa.
You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness and into His marvelous light. [1 Peter 2:9.]
It’s almost as though not only is the pursuit of God is the pursuit of light, but His pursuit of US is the pursuit of bringing us into the light.
His desires for us are the same (to some degree) as our desires for Him, and let me explain what I mean.
No man wants to owe anything to anyone. Nor does God (though He, by His very nature, demands generosity from us toward each other.)
No man wants to feel guilt and shame over the past. Nor does God (but He desires Godly sorrow, leading to repentance.)
No man wants to feel uncertainty about the future. Nor does God for us – He prepared for us an eternal hope for an eternal future.
No man wants to let his ego destroy his interpersonal relationships – nor does God. He desires for us an exuberant unselfishness, dying to the flesh and humbling ourselves under His hand, preferring others to ourselves.
I don’t like to write like this – but I will: I urge you to consider it yourself. What are you aiming for? What is the happiness you are pursuing?
A few months ago, I was working out this issue in my head – there was something I wanted desperately, but it wasn’t in line with everything I was taught to believe growing up, and I wanted to stand against it (almost for that very reason) but the harder I tried, the less at peace I felt about it.
I suppose the simple equation should be that if you feel tension and tugging, it’s a good sign that we should give it up, right? I think that God, being the good Father that He is, is willing to tell us “no” when it’s not in line with what’s good for us.
It’s also an issue, at least in my opinion, or delayed gratification.
Perhaps it is that often times the things we want are good, just not in the context.
Sex is great, but it’s volatile outside of marriage.
Money is great, but not when it’s hoarded.
Comfort is great, but not when it comes at someone else’s expense.
Power is great, but not when it’s abused and fought for violently.
Perhaps we should change our language from talking about the pursuit of happiness and talk about the pursuit of wholeness. Happiness exists within wholeness, and when happiness is found outside of wholeness, it’s dangerous.
The Kingdom of God is a Kingdom of light – it is everything good, it is everything beautiful, it is everything whole, it is everything just, it is everything kind, it is everything truthful. That’s the kingdom God is seeking to establish.