Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Come

Sometimes one simple word will capture my heart and lead it along a quiet, contemplative path for days.

The other morning I read Revelation 22:17. This verse comes at the very end of the Bible, where God sums up the message of his written revelation to the people he has created and dearly loves.

To us.

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”
And let those who hear say, “Come!”
Let those who are thirsty come;
and let all who wish take the free gift of the water of life.


The word “come” is used three times in this verse. Twice it is followed by an exclamation point—a rare occurrence in the Bible. And each time it comes from a slightly different direction.

The first “come” is an excited plea/command spoken by God’s Spirit and the Bride of Jesus—those who have accepted his offer of redemption and restoration into the family of God. They’re asking Jesus to return to earth a second time. They want him to fulfill the promise of the angels at his first coming—the promise that his coming would bring peace to the earth, in God’s time and in his way. This “come” is an invitation to Jesus.

The second “come” expresses a desire that people who have not yet become part of God’s family—people who hear this message—would join the rest of God’s people in the invitation to Jesus to return.

But the third “come” reverses the direction of the invitation. This time, Jesus is saying “Come.” He’s saying, “Before I come back to establish my Kingdom on earth, I want you to come to me. I want you to take the free gift of life I offer.”

We are invited to come to Him, so that He can come to us, in all the fullness of joy He wants to share with us in His glory at the end of the age.

On Sunday, in worship, we sang three songs with the word “come” in them. I couldn’t help but notice. Here are my favorite electronic versions of those songs.

Come Thou Fount

Come, Now is the Time to Worship

Come and Listen

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Sad Thing

A sad thing happened after all my blog-talk about listening for God’s voice. Things went well for a while. God and I were chatting every day.

Then I got busy and forgot to listen.

Maybe that’s why I haven’t had much to write about lately.

A few days ago I began to notice something was wrong, and I got lonesome. I decided to ask Him to speak to me, and made a decision, again, to listen for his response.

I don’t think He’s quit speaking. All the little serendipitous blessings—the coincidences of thought and circumstance that just “happen”—the inspiration and gentle nudges to do this or that activity—all these things point to His continued intimate involvement in my life. But it’s all happened so quietly I’ve failed to notice the source of the little miracles.

I’ve continued to walk the path of life, choosing directions at crossroads, negotiating the curves, and enjoying the beauty, as if I were alone. I’ve missed the joy of companionship. I’ve missed out on the best part.

His companionship means more to me than anything. So why is it so easy to forget Him?

I think there are at least three reasons. First, I’ve noticed that when I’m enjoying my visible world it’s much easier to get distracted, so that the reality of the invisible world fades into the background. When things are difficult in this visible world, it’s easier to turn to the invisible one for help.

Also, the visible world is so much more in-my-face. It's more demanding. Awareness of the spiritual realm, where God lives and moves and speaks, gets lost in the noisy business of living in the material world. I need to work at living in the light of His love, in the reality that is eternal.

Which brings me to the final reason I forget: I am lazy. I avoid working at anything that forces me to swim against the stream of the cultural whirlpool/cesspool I find myself dogpaddling around in. Asking Him to speak and listening for His voice needs to become a habit, so it happens without conscious decision on my part, and developing good habits always takes work.

The spiritual discipline of “practicing the Presence of God” is basic to the Christian walk. It should be the first one we develop when we start deliberately walking with God.

So here I go again, starting from the beginning.

And it’s not as hard as it might seem. The day after my new beginning, I went out early to a local river canyon looking for one more photoshoot spot, being careful to keep my ears open for more than the sound of the early morning birds.

For the novel I'm publishing, we need a scene by a river where Zinovy can kneel down and give his life to God. I found a spot that might work, but it wasn’t ideal. I turned to go back to the car, but the still, small Voice told me to continue farther down the path instead. So I turned again, and went farther down the trail, where I came out onto a wide, pebble beach along a stretch of the river that will work much better for our pictures.

When I turned back in response to His prompt, the picture at the top of this post is what I saw. And I’m sure I heard Him say, “I’m walking along this writing path, with you, remember?”

I do need to remember. That’s all I have to do, in fact. As long as I remember, consciously, every day, everything else will fall into place. I know that, by personal experience.

Prayer is a dialogue between two persons who love each other.

I just need to develop the habit of listening to His side of the conversation.