“Prescribed” God Encounters

We can discover and engage with God in innumerable ways. As we’ve discussed the last couple weeks, each one of us has unique ways we can communicate and connect with God. Some of these are consistent practices in our lives, some we haven’t even discovered yet, and most fall somewhere in between. Further, we have discussed how each one of these ways we connect with God fall into three categories: law, discipline, and practice. Laws are those things we do because we ‘have to’. Disciplines are those things we do because we know it’s good for us. And Practices are those things we do naturally, habitually, and with desire, because we cannot imagine life without them. Spiritual practices are those that have become part of our regular rhythm of life.

As we move towards life with God – life in the kingdom – it might be overwhelming to know even where to begin. With dozens (perhaps hundreds) or different ways we could connect with God, what practice do I select to begin?

One good place to begin are the places in the Bible where we find some ‘prescribed’ ways of connecting with God. These aren’t prescribed meaning we are commanded to do them so much as they are prescribed as natural, fundamental ways we all experience God. In other words, it is very likely that every one of us encounters God in one of the ways ‘prescribed’ in the Bible.

Three of these we find highlighted in Psalm 19: creation, knowledge/Scripture, and practice/righteousness. These are three fundamental ways we connect with God in our daily lives.

Creation

Summary: God created all things, and created them beautifully. The entirety of creation speaks God’s name. There is nowhere we can look, where we don’t see his face in creation. From the mountains to the oceans, from Wall Street to Prospect Avenue, from insects to elephants, and everywhere in between, God speaks to us of his of his love and character. Every time our eyes and hearts see creation as the workmanship of God, we discover God in a new way.

Examples: Walks through the neighborhood; spiritual retreats at a state park, monastery, or other place outside of the city; the discipline of ‘noticing’; looking for God in people or pets; silence and solitude; _________________________; _________________________

Scripture 

Summary: The written words in the Bible carry weight and meaning that brings to us the voice of God in new and unique ways every time we read, hear, discuss, or reflect on them. The stories reveal to us God’s mission and kingdom. The Psalms remind us of God’s posture towards us. The epistles tell of God’s character. And the Gospels show God’s unending love. Every single word in scripture is a word spoken to us by God.

Examples: Reading the Lectionary texts each morning; Making use of the Vade Mecum; Reading the same scripture every day for a week/month/year; Spiritual conversations; _____________________; _________________________

Practice/Righteousness

Summary: Each time we participate in God’s kingdom work in the world, we have the privilege of connecting with God in a unique way. God is with us during our acts of justice, righteousness, and mercy, and we learn about who God and his love for creation. We experience God in simple acts, like intentionally choosing to hold our tongue or to speak words of kindness or encouragement. We experience God in ‘bigger’ acts, like serving the poor, or giving away something we love to someone who needs it more. Every time we practice righteousness, we rediscover God.

Examples: Volunteering with a nonprofit; Discipline of giving; Practicing empathy/active listening; Giving something up for lent; Abstinence (from anything); Neighboring; _____________________ ; ____________________