Haunted by the verse in John where Jesus says, “my sheep hear my voice,” I have spent years searching for his voice in the evangelical and charismatic streams. Unfortunately I did not have a very good picture of God or myself. I thought if I could find out what God wanted and obey then my life would go well. My image of God was that of the angry voice at Mt. Sinai handing down the Ten Commandments and the voice of Jesus saying that our righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees. I was very literal in my interpretation of Scripture and wondered if I would be judged for having more than one shirt and for failing to respond to a person in need. I was drawn to charismatic prophets who declared the word of the Lord and I believed that if I did what God wanted, my life would work.
So like the Israelites I began to rely on others to hear God for me. Thank God I discovered Hearing God by Dallas Willard and had the privilege of being part of the Renovare Institute! What is most life changing for me is to actually be in Dallas’s presence and get to see his shining, loving face. To hear him say, “don’t ever believe anything bad about God” or to learn that God has called us to be colaborers in a conversational relationship, not robots was extremely freeing for me!
If you have been reading Dallas’s books and it has been an intellectual endeavor, not a heart changing one, then please buy his Hearing God DVDs or The Divine Conspiracy DVDs and hear his voice and study his kind face. For those of us who have never known a gentle, wise, invitational Father God image, Dallas’s interactions with John Ortberg and Richard Foster are a balm to the heart. You can begin to imagine what friendship with God might look like as you watch them interact.
How has your image of God changed over your lifetime?
How have you learned to best hear from Him?
Elesa Bentsen is a full-time homemaker and member of the Atlanta Renovare cohort. She lives in the Atlanta area.