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Knowing God

I was seeking God's will on a certain situation a few months ago. Growing up in the Evangelical faith, I had previously considered God's will as a tightrope; one foot to the left or right, and you fall off. Images of letting God down, failing to follow closely, and being easily distracted harmed my relationship with God and filled my life with feelings of guilt and inadequacy in my early Christian life. I've been working through such issues with the support of my Spiritual Director throughout the years, and I believe I've now arrived at a better, more complete understanding of God's will.

In terms of a metaphor, seeing God’s will for me is more like a field than a tightrope, i.e., the general direction is important, but we have much more freedom than we might have imagined. Significantly more important is our relationship with God rather than our obedience. Before you throw down your mug of tea or spit out your coffee, I believe obedience is essential; I simply understand that this comes through a relationship with God. To focus solely on obedience suggests legalism - something Jesus often criticised the religious leaders for.

The Gift of Being Yourself’ is the title of the book that I am currently reading, which was written by David Benner, a psychologist, author, and Christ follower. It was recommended to me by my Spiritual Director. The second chapter of the book is titled ‘Knowing God’, and it is in this chapter that Benner reflects on his trip and the realisation that his knowledge of God was founded more on his belief than on his experience. It is possible that it is only me and David Benner that suffer with this, but I have a feeling that many of us do; we have the head knowledge, but it appears to get stuck there and fails to travel down to affect and move our hearts. My assumption is that many of us struggle with this.

Benner highlights that there is no simple formula for deep knowing of God, and we should be wary of those who claim otherwise. Nevertheless, at the conclusion of each day, he recommends doing something called ‘Gospel meditation’ and reviewing it while praying. Those who already commit themselves to the daily discipline of ‘The Examine’ may already be familiar with such an approach, but I discovered that the ‘Gospel meditation’ method was one that I especially resonated with. I offer it to you in the prayerful hope that it might assist some over the summer holidays and enable us to fall into even deeper love with Jesus as we continue to serve Him. I suggest you commit to 15 minutes per day to undertake this exercise.

  1. First, take your journal (or something on which you can write) and find a quiet place where you can sit undisturbed.

  2. Select a Gospel account of one event in the life of Christ. After a brief prayer inviting God to allow you to imaginatively enter this experience and encounter Jesus, spend five minutes daydreaming on the passage.

  3. After thanking God for the gift of time spent with Jesus, ask for help in reflecting on your day in order to better discern Divine Presence during it.

  4. Allow the events of the day to replay before you. Accept whatever comes into focus, no matter how trivial it initially appears to be, as a gift from God. Ask for help to discern Divine Presence in that experience.

  5. End your time thanking God for the gifts received during this process.

Our weekly reflections are taking a break for August and will return in early September.

Simon Mattholie CEO, Rural Ministries


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