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Take courage, put some words out there and listen to what happens next

by davesandel on October 11th, 2021

Monday, October 11, 2021                             (today’s lectionary)

Take courage, put some words out there and listen to what happens next

IF today you hear his voice, harden not your heart.

I am learning to put words out there, into the open space, out loud or on the keyboard, and imagine they are God speaking.

Does it sound like God?

I’ve read the Bible through a few times, I write from the lectionary every day, I practice lectio divina now and then, not often enough. Margaret and I are slowly learning to use Logos 9, and I succumb to book purchases for Logos even more often than I do for my physical bookshelf. There are ways I’ve found to study the word of God, and other ways I’ve found to cherish it.  And in those practices and rhythms, I become more capable of recognizing the words of God among the rest of what my imagination creates.

Of all the gifts God gives me to communicate with Her, my imagination ranks among the top. Psychological techniques like theophostic therapy apply that godly imagination to healing. I want to apply my imagination to loving and knowing and worshipping God, saturated with awe but not saddled with false fear. Wasn’t that exactly what Paul was doing when he wrote the first chapter of Romans?

God promised his Gospel through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, the Gospel about his Son, descended from David according to the flesh but established as Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness.

At Life Community Church in Mahomet yesterday, Greg talked about how important it is to provide an environment for Christians who revisit their long-held beliefs but then discover they don’t hold them any more. “I am no longer a Christian” is a phrase I’ve heard from young and old friends. However tempting it might be to talk them back into their faith, listening to their thoughts in order to understand them is the only thing that makes sense.

And I think God is a better listener than anybody. Tell me more, David. In the conversations my imagination generates with him, that is his favorite phrase. I do not have the sense that he is trying to talk me into anything, although he is quick to point out parts of my argument or confession that aren’t clear or that I hadn’t even considered.

The Lord has made known his salvation. Sing to the Lord a new song. Remember his kindness and his faithfulness. Break into song, sing praise.

In the preface to his book The Prophetic Imagination, Walter Brueggemann says, first of all, that “imagination is indeed a legitimate way of knowing.” KNOWING … logos … truth … can I actually apply that idea about imagination to my own relationship with God? Must I wait silently for the voice of God, or can I be more proactive, listening through my own imagination?

This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation.

When Jonah walked the streets of Nineveh, God walked before him, and the people repented in droves. The king tore his clothes and put on sackcloth. We don’t do those things much anymore. I/we need to, in Brueggemann’s words, engage in “direct confrontation with presumed, taken-for-granted worlds,” simply to refresh and renew our faith. What better tool to use in this work than our imaginations?

On Saturday I spent several hours with my mom, who sleeps much of the time in her big chair. She watches “Dr. Pol” and reads when she is awake. She read Time Magazine. She read some of my devotions from Margaret’s hospital time that we’ve put into book form. She did some word puzzles. Then she slept again.

I got fried chicken and meatloaf for us from Daphne’s in Lincoln. At 8:45 I gave her the pills she was sure she had already taken, and gradually we made it to her bed.

It was difficult for her to get out of her chair, manage the walker, find her wheelchair, use the bathroom and fall into bed. She was out of breath and exhausted. She gave me her glasses and hearing aids and after catching her breath, she prayed Luther’s Evening Prayer, which she has prayed every day more or less for 99 years.

Into your hands I commend myself, my body and soul and all things. Let your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me.

And then Mom sleeps again, this time in her bed, this time until morning. God gives her so much time in the semi-conscious or unconscious space of sleep, when her imagination is less constrained, when her imagination is alive and well and seeking communion with God. I wonder what’s going on between them, and that wondering makes me happy

(Romans 1, Psalm 98, Psalm 95, Luke 11)

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