“You have to trust the inner voice that shows the way. You know that inner voice. You turn to it often. But after you have heard with clarity what you are asked to do, you start raising questions, fabricating objections, and seeking everyone else’s opinion. Thus you become entangled in countless often contradictory thoughts, feelings, and ideas and lose touch with God in you. And you end up dependent on all the people you have gathered around you. Only by attending constantly to the inner voice can you be converted to a new life of freedom and joy.”
– Henri Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love
For too many years, I did not trust the inner voice of love that I heard in my soul.
It was a lousy, fear driven way to live. It was not necessary.
Here’s how I learned this truth.
While serving as pastor in 2000, I came across an article on Lectio Divina, or Sacred Reading. Although it was a historical and orthodox practice of the church, I had never been exposed to it. Excited by this (new to me) discovery of a time-honored spiritual practice, I shared the article with the rest of the staff. Experiencing explosive numerical growth at the time and determined to create programs to leverage this growth, the article was summarily ignored. We were busy building church. So I thought, “let it slide.”
But I couldn’t let it slide. This practice, and many others that I learned of, connected my soul to God in a way that I had never experienced before.
For the next decade, at two “prevailing churches” I kept the practices that were forming my soul quiet. I provided the church growth product, and provided it for large groups of people. I managed systems and processes. I also formed small groups and communities under the radar with others who wanted to pursue these historical, contemplative practices. Practices that today are coming back into favor.
I lived dual spiritual lives until I just couldn’t do it any more.
I had to push past my fear of not fitting in, of being wired differently, and learn to trust the inner voice of love in my soul.
The process of learning to trust that voice is never easy. The very first step is to decide a place and a point where you will start.
How about here?
Why not today?
I don’t ever want to simply urge you to do, well, anything. I want to offer doable steps.
Here is an uncomplicated exercise that you can do today. It will only take eight minutes.
This small discipline will help you to connect, or reconnect, with the voice of God in you.
- For the first minute, just be quiet. Allow the pace of your thoughts and your heart rate to slow. What is going on outside of you matters less than what is going on inside you.
- For minutes two, three and four, write whatever you would say to God if he were sitting next to you. Don’t over-think, don’t analyze, don’t edit. Just write it out.
- In minute five, just be quiet. Be conscious of what it going on inside of you, specifically any areas of resistance.
- For minutes six, seven, and eight, write what you feel God saying in reply to what you just expressed to Him. Don’t over-think, don’t analyze, don’t edit. Just write it out. Trust that the God of the universe is on your side, and wants to respond to you.
- Go ahead and complete the exercise. I’m happy to wait for you.
Are you done?
Read what you wrote again.
Are you surprised by what just happened?
How was the experience?
If you would share in the comments below, I would be honored. You never know how much it helps others.
Or if that feels too exposed, you can email me. I promise that I will reply.
God helping you to push past fear and claim your own spirituality. Who would have thought such a thing?