Tuesday of 4th Sunday after Trinity – Acts 16:6-15

| July 2, 2012 | 2 Comments More

Acts 16:6-15

Have you ever had the feeling of déjà vu?  That feeling that you’ve experienced something before?

Here, again, in the book of Acts, I’m struck by the fact that I want to treat every word and phrase of God’s Word as the food of God.  I want to take it, chew it, savor it, swallow, digest, until it becomes a part of me and I am made healthy and whole.

Have you ever had the feeling of déjà vu?  That feeling that you’ve experienced something before?

Here again, in the book of Acts, I’m struck by the fact that although I want to treat every word and phrase of God’s Word as the food of God that sometimes it doesn’t want to go down.  From time to time, I don’t know why, I develop something (biologically speaking) called an esophageal stricture: i.e., I have trouble swallowing food.

Frequently, I have spiritual esophageal strictures, and today I’m having one of them.  I want to take the act of the apostles found in the Acts of the Apostles and be just like them.  I want to do just what they did in the way they did it.

But I can’t.  And so I’ve learned that if I sit around and wait for the Spirit to forbid me to do certain things and to come to me in visions to tell me to do other things, I might not get a whole lot done in God’s Kingdom.  And yet I truly and deeply believe that the Holy Spirit still speaks to us today.  Maybe the trick is in discovering how.

To Paul, the Spirit seems to speak loudly and clearly.  He forbade Paul to preach in Asia, which seems a strange thing for the Spirit to do.  When Paul and his companions tried to go to Bithynia, the Spirit did not permit them.  After closing these doors, the Spirit came to Paul in a vision of a man from Macedonia, telling Paul to come and help them.

Have you ever had the feeling of déjà vu?  That feeling that you’ve experienced something before?

Here again, in the book of Acts, I’m struck by the fact that Paul’s experience doesn’t match mine.  I’m left with 2 basic choices.  One is that I don’t have what Paul has because I’m not faithful enough or open enough to the promptings of the Spirit.  The other, if I am being faithful, is that the Spirit is working in my life but in a different way than Paul experienced.  Since I can say that I am trying to faithfully follow Christ and don’t experience what Paul did (and neither have millions of other faithful Christians), then I should stop, look, and listen for the Spirit in other ways in my life.

The truth is that the Spirit comes to me, if not in actual, extraordinary visions like Paul had, then in what we commonly call our vision.  He constantly beckons to me with a vision of what God wants for my life.  Most of the time I listen.  But some of the time I think I’m listening but I’m also secretly thinking about what I want to say, and His message is muted or garbled.  Other times, I’m so busy doing what I want to do, or even doing what I think I should be doing because it was yesterday’s mission, but I don’t have time to listen or prepare to listen to what the Lord is really saying.

I have dreams, if not actual REM stage of sleep dreams in which God speaks or ecstatic trances, then the dreams and aspirations that the Spirit places on my heart.  Sometimes, I’m actually quiet and still enough that I remember what these are.  And sometimes I confuse what the Spirit wants with what my flesh wants.

Have you ever had the feeling of déjà vu?  That feeling that you’ve experienced something before?

Here again, I’m struck by how frequently the Spirit is probably speaking to me and I don’t hear.  I wonder how many times the Spirit is calling me each day (or, actually, I think He prefers texting these days), and I don’t hear Him.  We have a problem with too much activity in our lives.  I see it especially in the lives of teens who are constantly on the go, at school, or in sports, or playing an instrument, or listening to music, or texting, etc.  How many quiet minutes a day do we really have in which the Spirit may be heard?  I suspect it’s a lot fewer than we might imagine.

I just returned home with a missions team that went to Belize.  While we went to help build a library and work with school kids, our real mission was to see God where He could be found every day.  Every one of the 30 of us saw God and remembered Him each night when we shared where we’d seen Him.  But will we continue to see Him now that we return to our busy schedules here in the U.S.  He’s here too, you know.  Do you look and listen for Him?

Recently, at St. Andrew’s, a group of women were reading the book Too Busy not to Pray.  I’m thinking of writing one called Too Busy not to Slow Down, but I can’t seem to slow down and find the time to write it (that makes 13 books stuffed in my head, I think).

If I did slow down, and if I did listen, how might the Spirit speak to me?  Sometimes, He would close doors in my life, and I would recognize it as such, and other times He would open doors.

Have you ever had the feeling of déjà vu?  That feeling that you’ve experienced something before?

Here again, I’m struck by the fact that maybe things weren’t so easy and magical for Paul.  Maybe when the Spirit forbade Paul to preach in Asia and did not permit him to go to Bithynia it wasn’t so much that Paul heard the Spirit speak in a dramatic way.  Maybe this is the way that Luke, under the inspiration of the Spirit, is envisioning the event.  Maybe one of the ways the Spirit speaks to me is in interpreting for me the daily events of my life that I assume just happen all by themselves and are randomly generated.

If I did slow down and listen, I would find that if I actually reflected on the events of the day that they would seem less random and more filled with the presence of God.  And maybe if I shared my experiences with other Christians I’d find that the Spirit speaks not only to individuals but through the Body of Christ.

Maybe, in other words, my life is one big satellite dish that potentially picks up the impulses of the Spirit all the time.  But I have my dish pointed the wrong direction or shut off for some unknown reason.

Have you ever had the feeling of déjà vu?  That feeling that you’ve experienced something before?

Here again, I’m struck by how many thoughts I’ve had today that I’m certain I’ve had before.  But they seem to get lost in the shuffle, or quickly noticed and admired, and then thrown in a special collection of mine where they’re carefully collected but rarely retrieved.

Maybe the Spirit has been speaking to me all along, only I haven’t noticed.

Have you ever had the feeling of déjà vu?

Prayer:  Lord, may I use my words less and my ears more to hear You today.  Amen. 

Point for Meditation: 

1.  How much time do you spend each day reflecting, meditating, or even daydreaming?

2.  What would be a good time of day for you to find a few moments to regularly be quiet before the Lord and meditate or reflect?

3.  Get quiet for 5 minutes.  Listen to the stream of thoughts which the Spirit is impressing upon you.  Write these ideas down. 

Resolution:  I resolve to listen today until I have heard one clear word from the Spirit and further resolve to act upon what I have heard. 

© 2012 Fr. Charles Erlandson

 

Paul’s Second Missionary Journey from keyway.ca

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Comments (2)

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  1. Bill Harden says:

    Your hunger for a Book of ACTS relationship with GOD, was refreshing and inspiring. The urgency of the hour requires more than church as usual. I join with you in your quest for divine direction. We have a faith building promise, “Blessed
    are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” Matt. 5:6

    “Again I say unto you , that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it ahall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.” Matt.18:19 Let’s do it!! I will be praying for you!

    Bill Harden
    2524 Forrest Lakes Cove
    Sherwood, Ar. 72120 (501) 680-0909

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