Barbara's Random Thoughts

Monday, May 26, 2008

In Search of Guidance, Dallas Willard

This book has been republished under the title Hearing God (as per the cover image to the left), but I read an earlier edition, as per the title above. You're just gonna have to live with the discrepancy.

This book has long been on my to-read list. I actually procured this particular copy while I was working at GHBC--it was on Bob's reading list for one of his D.Min. classes. I got the book for him, transcribed his dictated notes on it, and edited his subsequent paper. Then I inherited the book when he was clearing out his bookshelves. And now I've finally read it myself.

This was a perhaps too-timely read for me. I started reading it in November, and finished in January--reading it throughout my most confused months of discernment/decision making after returning from South Africa. It did seem a little too obvious to read a book titled "In Search of Guidance" during this time.

I knew from the outset that reading this book wasn't going to answer all my questions or give me some sort of formula that if followed would yield instructions on exactly what steps to take next. But I think I like to look for formulas and instructions regardless. This book (thankfully) isn't that.

When making big life decisions, I consistently go to God asking for directional answers, specific instructions as to what to do. Reading this book was another very needed reminder that God doesn’t generally work that way. No “Hey, Barbara, go back to South Africa” messages came during this time in my life or through my reading of this book. But what I needed far more than specific instructions (though I often frustratedly think specifics would be preferable) was summed up by the book’s subtitle: “Developing a Conversational Relationship with God.”

Ultimately, the message Willard conveys is that guidance comes through relationship. We must place ourselves into a conversational relationship with God and guidance will flow from that. You can’t skip the relationship and expect to hear God’s voice. During these months, I commented more than once that I kept going to God with directional questions, and he kept responding with heart answers: calling me to deeper relationship, to trust, and to stepping out in faith. I’d ask: “Where do I go?” and He would answer: “Be with me.” As frustrating as that can be, that’s exactly what I need. Not just when I’m making huge life decisions, but always.

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| posted by Barbara | 5:10 PM