Sunday, January 22, 2017

Hearing God’s Voice with an Assist From Art

I subscribe by email to a few blogs - Charity Singleton Craig, Ann Kroeker, Laura Boggess, and (in)courage are a few of my favorites. Sometimes I’m disappointed when I don’t read a thought or receive an insight that I can apply to my life. In fact, for a period of a few weeks, I quit reading these blogs and a few others, telling myself: “These don’t apply to me.”

I realized after these few weeks that my attitude was distancing me from God, something I didn’t like.

Frustrated with my distance, I was desperate to recapture communion with God that has sustained me through many rough patches since I was a child.

How I Heard God’s Voice Through Phrases 

The first thing I tried was reading a few Guidepost magazines that someone donated to the chaplain department of the hospital where I volunteer each week. I thought for sure reading these stories of God at work in other’s lives would surely help. Well, the opposite happened. Reading how God helped others, I thought, “God is helping these people who believe and put their faith and trust in God, just like me. Why don’t I hear God’s voice like I used to? Why doesn’t God answer my prayer for connection? God seemed to answer the prayers of these people in various circumstances and trials – I just want to feel God’s presence?”

God did begin to sense my needs as I read each magazine. I would record a phrase or word from each article that spoke to me. Here is what I recorded from the April, 2009, issue:

  • Give me strength.
  • Thou art with me. 
  • Make good come. 
  • Bless my work. 
  • Lord, thank you. 
  • Open my heart. 
  • I need you. 

The first phrase I chose, “Bless my work,” carried me for many days, slowly rebuilding a foundation for a soul in despair that wondered why God felt so distant and far away.

One Saturday, feeling especially disconnected, I became restless, alternately standing up and sitting on the couch. Finally, I felt a stirring in my heart and these words came: “God is here.” I celebrated another moment of connection, knowing these three words came from God. God reached my heart with a personal message.

Upon reflection, I discovered that the blogs I dismissed and thought were not relevant to what I was experiencing did have something to offer. When I read the content more calmly and with an open heart, I saw that they contained scripture references, phrases, and perspectives, just like the Guidepost features. When I isolated these elements and applied them to my life, I gradually felt more connected to God.

At long last, I was back on track with God!!

How I Heard God Through Art 

Often when I am caught struggling, in turmoil, where I have no language to express what I am experiencing, I turn to art to give form to my disequilibrium and create an opening through the chaos.

These past few weeks when I felt distanced from God, I went to a box of fabric scraps resting in a box in my office. Choosing a few strips, I held the cloth and wondered how could I represent “connection”? After some consideration, I took a four-inch-long piece of cloth approximately two inches wide, folded it in half length-wise and then tied two knots. I repeated the same folding and knotting sequence with strips of fabric for many days, trying to re-establish my link to God and knot it in place.

In time, my heart opened as I folded and tied. Art was helping my return to God.

I am deeply grateful to God for helping me realize that even though I may not feel God, God is with me and guides me in my search to reach a destination – that destination is always the heart of God. 

St. Augustine said, “That which you are seeking is causing you to seek.” During those weeks, I kept seeking God, and God was directing that search, giving me tools to use until I heard God’s voice once again.

Prayer: God, thank you for navigating me through weeks when you felt distant and far away. You were guiding my way, offering ideas that eventually let me hear your voice again. I am so grateful. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. You always give space and time for these things to unfold. I wonder if the rest of us are rushing around and struggle to experience such rich contemplation through art and prayer? You show us all kinds of ways to slow down, pray, create art with that purpose of connecting with God. I'm glad you are finding greater intimacy with God and hope others can experiment with techniques like these to stay open to what God has to say to them.