I’m on my last day before a three day vacation (oops — I mean conference) in Atlanta. Yes, I will be working, but these breaks always seem like such a lovely time to get away from housework, routines, and all those niggling things I’m supposed to be doing, but haven’t.
You don’t have to get away for several days to get the benefit. I often hear people moaning about in-service days, and I appreciate that there are some bad trainers out there. But every chance to interrupt the usual – at work, at home, or in church life – are opportunities to be open to the Spirit. Those are often exactly the moments that we can hear the voice of God – whether or not the lecturer is getting through to us.
I learned my absolute best skills in facilitation from a facilitation teacher who really wasn’t very good at it. There’s nothing like witnessing exactly what NOT to do. Now I make my own mistakes instead of his.
I heard God telling me to launch Openings: Let the Spirit In at a previous three-day workshop in Atlanta – same place! So I go in anticipating some really wonderful insights.
But I need to be open to really listening, or all the insights and inspirations are going to pass right over my head. Before I go, I pray that the Divine Presence will open my ears and my heart to listen and my mind and my heart to understanding. I can easily do one without the other or let both slip past me when I am busy or fussing. I pray to leave behind the things I cannot fix while I am away. I pray for trust that God carries those I love, well always, but especially when I won’t be there to hold them myself. There are a lot of things that I have to let go of – including any expectations of exactly what I anticipate the Spirit will say – in order to have fruitful times of discernment while I am away.
Most of what I have to bring with me is a remembrance of what the Divine voice sounds like in my life. A friend once asked me how I knew it was the voice of God versus the hundred and one other voices in our heads. There are discernment tools to help you know if your thoughts are from God, but the most important one for me is that I have heard that voice before.
There is a feeling when it is Divine, a rightness or a peace that even many of my non-Christian friends can recognize even when they name it differently. They may not experience it as Jesus calling them to follow, but I do, because he has called me to follow before.
I encourage you to look ahead in your calendar – when is your next break? – a training at work, a conference, a night out with friends? Start anticipating now all the great ways God might call out to you when you’re out of your routine. And I’ll look forward to sharing anything God reveals to me in Atlanta!
What are your anticipating with gladness in the coming weeks or months? What will you do to prepare spiritually for that? Do you have a break in the routine coming up soon? If not, can you schedule one, even for a few hours? Will the upcoming holidays give you that disruption from the everyday? Can you remember a time when you knew God was present or even speaking in your life? What did that feel like? Would you recognize it if it happened again?