Saturday, October 17, 2009

How do you know if God is telling you something?

Interesting question. One could flip it ("How do you know God ISN'T telling YOU something?"), but that then begs the question "What is the nature of God's communication?" Everyone has an opinion. Atheists must if they are going to try to explain such a phenomenon away, and theists must if they believe God reveals anything at all to them.

So what works for you? Ecstatic visions? Physical voices? A sense of being directed or led? Something similar or totally different?

Here's a possibility upon which anyone who is genuinely interested in the question and not their own certainty nor simply being argumentative can reflect. I offer it with no expectations or defense:

Perhaps (merely perhaps) this is what God is saying...

The birth and death of stars and galaxies. The spark of life appearing on various worlds. The fire of chemistry and biology spreading across these worlds, changing and diversifying. The emergence of forms of this blazing process that are self-aware and able to perceive in new ways like their ancestors who developed photosensitive cells. The sun rising and setting. The song of the bird and the whale. Emotion, cognition, and reflection. The way parents are always parents in every culture. The smell of a happy puppy waggling its little tail. All thirty one flavors. The people and events in your life. Your reaction to reading this. The part of you that is constant no matter how you change physically, mentally, or otherwise. This moment, eternal yet ever new.

(To borrow from the UCC, "God is still speaking...")

5 comments:

  1. This is something I think about quite a bit. When I left evangelical Christianity and declared myself an atheist it was mainly based on me not experiencing anything I recognized as God. When I was a Christian I felt I experienced God through sections of the Bible that would suddenly resonate with me, through music sometimes worship music, sometimes not, through beauty, through fellowship with other believers, through some message preached from a pulpit.

    There were periods where nearly every thought was directed at God in prayer.

    The more I studied the Bible, the more I realized that the people within it's pages were experiencing a much more real and tangible God than I was, and I wanted that. I spent many agonized hours in prayer seeking God, begging him to be more real, at least as real as people I knew. In the end it dawned on me that there was nothing I had experienced that added up to anything more than coincidences and warm fuzzies.

    Perhaps God speaks through coincidences and warm fuzzies, but I still find that unsatisfying and my current life mostly satisfying and much less tumultuous than when I was a Christian. No more faith roller coaster ride, it's quite refreshing.

    Perhaps I will recognize God again, perhaps not.

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  2. My point has to do with a basic orientation toward existence - everything is God speaking. Whether it is warm fuzzies or a bee sting on the ass. We are the ones who try to discriminate and privilege certain parts and then use that to bash each other. As I wrote recently elsewhere,

    It has been said that fundies are half-believers, caught up in their own insecurity's need to reshape the tenets of their faith into weapons. That is to say, for many of them the problem is that they don't actually take the premises of their religion seriously enough! Hence the once popular phrase, "Lord, save me from your followers."

    It is when we realize a primary interdependence with divinity that God challenges us and comforts us, not as a set of rituals or rules (which may be helpful or harmful), but as an affirmation of our essential dignity and worth. But with this comes the recognition that it does matter what we do with our lives and how we affect and are affected by others. This is the root of other spiritual and religious practices and guidelines. What we call/how we try to classify God isn't as important as how we relate to God is another way of saying it.

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  3. I agree that God is present in everything, in the mysteries of our universe, as well as in the most ordinary every-day experiences. When we begin to relinquish the paradigms that have taught us to perceive God in limiting ways, we find true liberation from ourselves and see the God-nature in all things.

    By the way, I LOVE the title of your blog. I am so glad I found it. ;) (i) PG

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  4. Hello Patty. Thank you for your kind words and please visit whenever you like. I don't always have much (or much useful) to say, but I like having a place to say it when I do. :o)

    I peaked at your blogs. One has a very soothing quality and the other reminds me wonder why I gave up creative writing as a career option (too many other more talented people out there).

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  5. So I realize this is a very old post and don't even know if you still update this blog, but here is what I think... I have been going thru some stuff where I have this urge to do something, end a relationship. I feel that this relationship is holding me back from having a full relationship with God, because it started with a lie. So lately I can't even sleep, I have been restless for over a week now and I feel like the right thing to do is en the relationship and move on. I feel like if I do this, I am going to feel liberated from a huge burden!
    So I been trying to figure out if it is God speaking to me or if it is just me thinking about all this stuff. So after reading a few blogs and some of the bible concerning God speaking to people, I have found my answer. God is in fact talking to me! I must end the relationship and work on my relationship with him. The first thing I had to understand is that as a Christian God lives in me. So after a few times of Him talking to me thru other people and songs and books, God now expects me to know his voice and act upon what I'm told. So my thoughts telling me something is actually God speaking to me. I them can look in the bible for reassurance on what I believe God is telling me to do. Some people might think that I am only using God as an excuse to break up my relationship, but because I know it all started with a lie, them I know that the right thing to do is to end it now! Now all I need is the courage to break her heart. Is so difficult , but it is something I must do so that both of us can move on and find the right people for us... So there are my two cents

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