Since I started talking with God at the start of 2015, I have had life-changing discussions. I feel like I've finally graduated - from kindergarten to primary school. Now I feel I've graduated to college - although this is life - not school so that's just an analogy. So much is changing in my life. I thought I'd share some things I've learned - not to say this is the way someone else should be living - but as an example of how one very ordinary person is very slowly learning a whole new (yet old) way of life.
So what has God been saying to me? Mostly what God says to me won't be significant to others - it's downright boring, or it would be if it wasn't from God. However, sometimes lessons can be generalised.
The first big thing He said was to slow down. This is not an easy thing for a Type A personality. At first, I thought it was to slow down so I could hear His voice (and certainly I did need to). I clicked (after some months) that His word to me wasn't unique: "Be still and know that I am God". Later I found (are you starting to get the idea I can be really slow on the uptake sometimes) He doesn't just want me to slow down when I want to hear Him - He wants me to live as Jesus did - hearing and responding to God - not racing ahead on my own steam as I've been accustomed to. Slowing down and striving to discuss everything with God is a much bigger lesson that I first appreciated. That in itself is another subject - rushing off with the first bit of something might be normal for me - but it's definitely not the most productive.
Slowing down is hardly what I expected - but it is part of what I needed. In my early days as a Christian I learned about "quiet times", and sometimes (very rarely) these resulted in amazing fresh insights. But now when I read of the various great names in the faith, I note with regularity times alone with God were very important to them - so much so they often had to get up in the small hours to make sure they got time with their God.
Often we hear of "meditation" or "mindfulness" or other things encouraging us to slow down. Slowing down is necessary (despite what the world says) - but slowing down to be in God's company is a whole new dimension. Much done in the name of meditation or mindfulness comes from other religions. Often attempts are made to ignore these - but why empty your mind when God longs to see you use it fully. Meditation is definitely a God thing and good for us - just not with all the extra baggage. In particularly emptying your mind of yourself can be good - but leaving it empty for others to use is not.
I also had a special reminder of a book I read a year after becoming a Christian. "Your God is too small" (JB Phillips) wasn't discarded when we pruned our books - I thought it was good. But I had no idea of how great. God took me back to that during our year-end mayhem - not an ideal time from my perspective, but well worth it. My God really has been way too small. Just as an example - now having conversations with God is great. But God has a few billion other people in the world - and has a conversation around each one. Most don't join in - but imagine two people conversing. A third joins - and then another - and another ... How many people before we lose a real conversation? But God can handle billions of individual conversations with complete attention - and still do everything else He does.
An example from my professional life shows God is interested in everything. You wouldn't think of accounting as leading to a discussion with God - but I had a problem which I'd been battling with for a couple of weeks. Eventually, I asked God about it. He suggested a different approach - which somewhat surprisingly to me let me break through and complete the job.
I eagerly tackled the second new company for this client, using the same process. It didn't work. That wasn't nice. God had given me the 'trick" - why did it not work? If you thought I was slow taking this problem to God, I was really slow to think what worked once should work a second time. That's when I learned the really important lesson - one that's clear from the gospels (and elsewhere) - but needed to be hammered home to me. Talking with God is great. Stopping and living on past words not so much.
The important thing is to hear (and do) what God says in each and every situation. Taking what worked one time and turning it into a "rule" is what religion is so good at. God wants us always - not occasionally - to hear Him and do what He wants - how He wants.
A question He asked has had a major effect - despite at first seeming trivial. Remember this is me He's talking with - you aren't me (sighs of relief) - but there may be something here of interest to some. I have always said I'm neither an optimist nor a pessimist - I'm a realist. God simply asked: "Whose reality was I using as a standard?"
While God is Truth, my previous very black and white views of life were extremely limiting. I used to think truth equalled fact, but if that is so, why do people argue so much? Today more often than not people don't listen to each other - they make up their minds without receiving all the facts. But before that (and even on occasion today) people reach different conclusions based on the same facts. (This ignores Orwell's insight into the power of changing words, which further changes the arguments.)
For example, the cause of global warming sees heated debate (pardon the pun) but little action. Looked at from a bigger perspective, man is making a mess of the planet, including salt and fresh waters, as well as the land. Still, deforestation continues at horrific rates. It reminds me of a game we played as young people. The only way for everyone to succeed was to cooperate - but we never did. Someone always tried to get ahead of the others, and that meant the group as a whole stagnated. Today the world plays this game, with a tiny (and diminishing) percentage doing very nicely, while more and more people struggle (although not as many as previously).
So what does He have to say to you? if you've never talked with God (and so often prayer is one-way), read how you might start.