Tuesday, February 23, 2016

How to Discern God's Calling

These last 2 weeks have been my weeks to lead our Intergenerational worship, our more interactive service.  The second week of the service usually includes some sort of art/creative project.

We've been studying King David and one of the questions of our study has been "What is God calling you to do?"  It's been awhile since we did any kind of writing project (except for writing messages on cards to our sick and shut-in, which aren't really writing projects), and I don't think we've ever done any kind of guided meditation.

Unlike most Sundays, I spread us out across tables so that no more than 2 people shared a table.  Everyone had paper and pen to begin with.

I went back to my time-honored practice of free writing:  just write.  Don't correct mistakes, don't read what you're writing, don't stop.  If you run out of things to say, then write, "I have nothing more to say, I have nothing more to say" until you have something to say.  Go where your brain wants to go.  As long as you don't stop, you can't do this wrong.

The prompt:  "What is God calling you to do right now?"

I had them write for 4 minutes.  Then we moved to the next module.  I said, "Tell me about a vivid dream you've had in the past few weeks." 

Four minutes later, I passed out colored pencils and crayons.  I said, "We've used words, and now we'll use images and colors.  What is God calling you to do right now?"

I had planned to stop there, but the last prompt bubbled up as I watched them move through this process.  I told them that for the last activity they could use words or images or both.  I said, "What are your deepest yearnings?"

I got good feedback--everyone, with the exception of some of the children who were in a surly mood, participated, and most people looked pleased.  I heard from some of the participants later, who said they found it a useful exercise.

I always worry a bit with the kind of exercise that we did on Sunday--people might dredge up difficult stuff, and while it feels like a safe space to me, with pastoral care if necessary--Sundays are tight, timewise, and I'd hate to leave anyone stranded with too much to process.  Happily, everyone seemed on solid mental ground as we left.

We talked a bit about the process.  Are these dangerous questions?  This idea that God is calling us to one life above all others--we talked about how it could be disruptive, if we never settle down to live the life we actually have.

I also talked about how it's important to tune in to ourselves periodically.  We have a lot of forces that distract us from self-knowledge.  It's good to check in.

Is self-knowledge the same as knowledge of God?  I could create multiple answers to that question.  I realize the danger in thinking that our yearnings are what God wants for us.  And yet, I think those yearnings can be signposts towards God.

We also talked about the quote from  Frederick Buechner in Wishful Thinking: "'The place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.'"

It seemed like a good Sunday morning.  I was glad to facilitate.

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