The Budded Cross by Jim Baker
In his book, Abandonment to Divine Providence, Jean-Pierre de Caussade says, “Every moment we live through is like an ambassador that declares the will of God to us. If we understood how to see in each moment some manifestation of the will of God we should find therein all that our hearts could desire. If we were attentive and watchful God would reveal Himself to us, and we would see His divine action in everything that happened to us and rejoice in it.”
There is no more infallible way to seek the will of God than by seeing the grace of God in each moment. If we did nothing more than that, de Cassaude says, we would attain the highest levels of transformation. Everything in life is to be welcomed as somehow the expression of the will of God. Your reaction to whatever happens has to be “as if” it were the will of God, or you can’t respond to it graciously.
How can we live like this? I find living and seeing God in the moment increasingly difficult in a hyper extroverted, input intensive, plugged in world. But, engaging in an inner conversation each week that reviews the events that have occurred and looks for the meaning and wisdom to be extracted is achievable. I find this consistently is the most important conversation I have each week…..the one with myself and God.
Inner Conversation Questions
During inner conversations, your engagement with other people is suspended, as you reflect upon the week and strive to see God in all its moments. Gordon MacDonald has provided a series of questions I have adapted to focus my thoughts and reflect on where God has been working in my life in recent days.
- What were the beautiful moments this week in which God may have been revealing himself to me? And what were the evil moments when the worst in me or in the larger world showed itself?
- What happened this week that needs to be remembered, perhaps recorded in a journal so I can return to it in the future and recall the blessing or the rebuke of God?
- What have my prevailing feelings been? Has there been a preponderance of sadness, of fear, of anger, of emptiness? Or has it been a time where joy and enthusiasm has been the dominant mood?
- What have been the “blessings,” those acts of grace that have come through others or—as I perceive it—directly from God himself? How can I express praise and appreciation?
- Have things happened for which I need to accept responsibility, perhaps leading to repentance? Why did they happen? Were they avoidable and how can they be prevented in the future?
- What have been the thoughts that have dominated my think-time? Noble thoughts? Escapist thoughts that woo me away from more important or challenging issues? Superficial thoughts that lead to nowhere?
- Is there a possibility that I am living in denial of certain realities that occurred this week? Painful criticism, sloppy work, habitual patterns that are hurting me and others?
- Were there any resentments or ill feelings toward others that surfaced this week and remain unaddressed, unforgiven?
- As I was in the company of my spouse, children, friends, and colleagues this week – was I a pleasant person to be around? Were people challenged, elevated, and enthused by my presence? As someone has observed, “Some people bring joy wherever they go; others bring joy when they go.” Which was I this week?
- What was God trying to say to me this week? Through Scripture? Through other readings? What has he been saying through those in my inner circle of relationships? Through critics? What insights arise? Which of them needs to be repudiated, and which needs to be cultivated?
- Was I mindful this week of the socially awkward, the poor, the suffering, the oppressed in my local world and in the larger world? Was I in tune with appropriate current events in the world and perceiving them through the lens of biblical perspective?
Church leaders must acknowledge the indispensable need for adding to their calendar a regular time for an inner conversation with themselves and God. For as Oswald Chambers so profoundly wrote, “The battle is won in the secret places of the will before God.”