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For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’.

Acts 17:28a

They shall be like a tree planted by water,

sending out its roots by the stream.

It shall not fear when heat comes,

and its leaves shall stay green;

Jeremiah 17:8a

In last week’s The Liminal Space, Jenny challenged us to consider how we hear God/the Holy Spirit speaking to us. How do we know what is from God and what is not from God? How do I know what is of God and what is just of me?

Our reading from the Hebrew scriptures on Sunday reminded us of the story of Elijah’s search for God on Mt. Horeb. God was not to be found in the wind, or the earthquake, or the fire, but in the still small voice that followed the cacophonous chaos. That has been my experience as well. God is difficult to hear when I am too busy being noisy, when I am doing what I want to do, rather than being quiet and listening for the voice of God.

Two of my favorite Bible verses are at the top of this reflection. They remind me to stay grounded, rooted, centered. I love the image of a tree (or a weed) with a tap root going deep into the ground. They flourish as the water table drops and are difficult to dislodge. So it is with me. If I stay grounded in God, in whom I live and move and have my being, I am much more likely to be able to hear God’s voice.

So how does that work, practically speaking? By being quiet and listening. By reading and listening. By talking with others and listening. By being curious and listening. By being open and listening.

And what gets in the way? I do. All. The. Time. My ego gets offended, or annoyed, or wakes up on the wrong side of the bed. Or is tired, or hungry, or feeling sorry for itself. Or in the words of children’s author Judy Viorst, having a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Time to recognize, repent, and reorient.

What am I listening for? How am I trying to hear God? Here are some touch points that I have come up with for myself.

  • Am I looking and listening through a lens of love?

  • Am I trying to change myself, or someone else?

  • Am I maintaining a posture of open hands and an open heart?

  • Am I meeting the world with a grateful attitude?

  • Is it the next right thing?

  • Is it mine to do?

When I use these questions to align myself with whom I perceive God to be, I am much more likely to hear the voice of that whom I perceive to be God. I certainly have my bad days, weeks, months (hopefully not years), and yet always God invites me back into relationship, to check my tap root, and realign myself. Always I begin again.

Caryl Medsker

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