It has an odd history, but for more than two-thirds of my life it has sat not much more than a block away from four homes I have lived in. It is officially an avenue that stretches through most of the metropolitan area I live in. Belinder Avenue.
During my youngest childhood days it was the great boundary marker that I was not allowed to go beyond. As I grew it became a landmark that told me I was close to home. Most days now I don't even register its existence as I turn onto it to get to the street on live on. Belinder Avenue; integral to my personal history yet so unnoticed.
I never really gave this road much thought until a week or so ago. Recently I was informed that I needed to exercise more so walking up and down Belinder Avenue has been my poor man's gym workout. I realized in an epiphany moment that this avenue has been a part of most of my life. I also realized I didn't know anything about its history, it's just always been here, as protection and as an unconscious venue to take me to other places.
Belinder Avenue has become sort of an icon for me. An icon is a picture that points to something else. On my walks God has been using Belinder Avenue as an icon pointing me to other places in my life that are integral yet unnoticed. Things I do, as we say, unconsciously. Knee jerk reactions to life's circumstances as they occur. Motives that drive me. I have to say most of what comes up is not all that pretty.
I teach a lot about listening for God's voice. I've been about this topic for almost thirty of the forty years I've been in ministry. I've studied the topic, received graduate and post graduate degrees from those studies and have tried to communicate what I'm learning in what seems like a million different ways. The one constant I know is that to hear God's voice beyond concepts and formula's, to hear His voice that transforms and unearths the hard places of my soul, I must be quiet and listen. I can be doing normal activities but within the day somewhere there is to be moments of silence...a mini retreat, where I listen. This is the heart of prayer.
Most of us we have been taught that prayer is centered on talking to God. The reality of prayer is actually listening, not talking. Just listening feels so unproductive. There are not lists to check off, there is nothing accomplished except that the clock has moved forward. Listening like this is so un-American. I can't measure it, chart it, quantify it, or make money from it.
Everyone one has a Belinder Avenue in their life; a normal, everyday connection with life. Something that can become an icon, pointing you beyond the ordinary, taking you deeper into your soul. God's delight is in speaking to us in these deep places; not just about His character or ways, but about ours, and how they often clog up our ability to let the fruit of His Spirit come forth.
We have opportunities listed below designed to help you learn to listen like this. From Morning Prayer to LAB's to retreats to training this is what Rhythm of Grace is about. Helping people learn to listen deeply.
I hope you'll consider these offerings but I especially want you to consider our teaching retreat coming up called "Light of the Dark Night". It is designed to address the issue of what happens when we hit those dry spells and find no pleasure, as we once did, in connecting with God and hearing His voice. Throughout church history many testify to these dry spells, cloudiness, dark nights, hitting a wall. Why are they so prevalent? Come and learn how and why God is closer in those times than we imagine, and what He is doing!