Letting The Future In
“There is always one moment…when the door opens and lets the future in.”
Jesus had habits such as revealed in Mark 1:35:
“In the morning before the sun was up, Jesus went to a place where he could be alone. He prayed there.”
He opened the door to let the future in. God has set in you a future that is seeking to emerge.
At a lunchtime during one of our JourneyBend Weekends, a lady at our table talked about a family member whose life was out of control. She said, “I came to the realization that I couldn’t fix him, or bail him out one more time, or solve his problem and addiction. It’s up to him.”
She wasn’t giving up on him. We really can’t fix it for other people no matter how much we care or love them. And no one can fix it for us. God is in a want-to mood. Always. When we are ready to join Him in the healing and repairing, that commitment opens a door that lets the future in. The journey to that new future is through, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).
Every time I listen to the news, financial experts, politicians, or read about education and students, I realize everyone who is listening and paying attention has good reason to be anxious, depressed, distressed and at least a little out of control.
I do not understand why D. C. bureaucrats don’t call me more often to ask my opinion. I did conclude that if they are not going to benefit from my wisdom and strategies, I’m going to have to increase my anti-anxiety meds and get a grip on where the anxiety comes from and how to erect better mental-health self-care techniques.
You may have different presenting issues and symptoms. I decided I had (or have) four primary mismanaged mental pillars:
I connected with Romans 12:1-3 and the phrase, “…be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Renewing meant I would have to redesign the way I think and react to those triggers.
It was up to me, and I committed to opening the door to a different mental future. Romans 12:1-2, I was convinced, was the template I was to use, and Holy Spirit wanted to be my director. I have used Dr. Mark Virkler’s “How to hear from God,” platform in other settings and adopted and adapted his teaching to my personal battle with anxiety. So, I established time and plans to talk this over with God.
You may have a platform that has been helpful for you. Please use whatever works for you, but I want you to know about this framework. It has four steps. Ready?
Dr. Virkler and all the others I’ve read and heard instruct us to find a quiet place where we will be comfortable and relaxed. Place both feet squarely on the floor. Begin each session with deep breathing and an invitation to God to join you and to contribute. This is not a monologue; it is a conversation. I talk, You listen. Then You talk and I listen—and I ask questions.
I was reading a magazine interview featuring country music star Miranda Lambert. We went to one of her concerts at the Iowa State Fair and I’ve been interested in her career since—not so much her love life—but her opinions and career choices. The interviewer asked a question to which Ms. Lambert responded, “I’ve seen a lot of parking lots.” I identified.
One of the neat things while on the road is to see a tour bus sitting on a parking lot. Not many have the names painted on the side. It is fun to search for clues whose bus it might be.
I too have seen a lot of parking lots while waiting for my people to finish shopping or searching for supper. But parking lots have also been a place where I’ve been invited to hang out to read, think and pray.
For me, the setting is important. Just find a place where you are comfortable, feel safe and sense it is a place where Jesus would hang out. Just make sure to take pen and paper, a book to read, good coffee or a favorite soft drink.
Just this week I sensed God wanted to meet me at a big box parking lot. Carole asked me when I returned what she often does: “Was He there?” Oh! He was! He was!
My current favorite places to talk, think and read is Carole’s front porch and the lawn swing in the back yard.
The problem with quiet is the voices in our heads fill the quiet with racket—the inner critic, and looping narratives. We need healing for the wounds that gave a platform for the harassment or lies. Tell negative or dark spirits the truth and demand they be silent. Place boundaries—say out loud that only Holy Spirit is allowed, and He alone has permission to speak.
Some folks choose worship music as an advantageous benefit to the quiet. You do what is beneficial to your two-way conversation. Vocal music doesn’t work for me. I join in the singing or search for a harmony part and then move away from the purpose of the conversation.
You will ask Holy Spirit questions about Anticipation, Expectation, Imagination and Memories. Anxiety grows as we anticipate what may happen—“What if…?” Change the questions and assumptions. Change your mind’s rapid jump assumptions and you will defang anxiety.
Perhaps the barrier to this conversation will be about whether Holy Spirit even has this kind of chat or the raw information to reply.
“Oh Lord, if it is your will…Lord, if this is really your voice, please send three camels to walk through my living room…and then I’ll know for sure”
Jesus is always in the mood to talk, listen and say yes. In simplistic terms, to believe that is an act of faith. Jesus is not about scolding. He never says, “You can’t be serious!” He is for you. He wants the best for you; therefore, He will walk with you in this diagnosis and healing. He places visions and dreams and desires in us that we might act on them to glorify the Father. He wants us to be obedient, but if we don’t know what He is asking of us, how can we be obedient?
“Anyone who comes to Him must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
In 2006 we watched and heard Allison Porter sing “Blue Bayou” on Voice. Wow! To the 8th power! The judges remarked about her “most perfect pitch.” We learned this great singer is the child actress grown up who starred as Curley Sue in the movie by the same name. After years of abuse and addictions, she in 2006 was in her eighth year of sobriety. Mother of two and at that time in a good marriage. She was the winner of Voice 10th season. She said she is “thankful that the universe had given her this chance.” I am appreciative of her gratitude. If the impersonal universe wants what is good for us, how much more our personal savior wants the best for us.
We are asking for God’s input, wisdom, guidance. We will ask about voting, what product to bring to market, how to deal with difficult situations and people at work, what classes to take, how to invest money, what to do for a troubled child, a proper response to a hurting relative. It is the ask, seek, knock process. It is to bring every detail of life to the Lord. Here we are asking why anxiety affects and infects us the way it does and what are His suggested strategies.
Sometimes God will tell us we are asking the wrong question and He will help us to find the better questions.
Arthur Guinness prayed, “God, do something about the drunkenness on the streets.” The response seemed to be, “You do something about it! What could you do?”
“…the second Arthur Guinness was a man of deep faith. His father’s unswerving piety took root in his soul, where it merged with an evangelical fire.” That motivated asking God about business questions and decisions.
Guinness Beer was an answer to hard liquor, like gin, that was destroying their country.
“Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about” (Jeremiah 33:3).
Remember we are seeking to renew our minds—change our inevitable automatic negative thinking. You might ask, “Why do I always anticipate the worst?” Or when you have a doctor’s appointment, “Why do I always anticipate this appointment will end in me going to the hospital? Or the doctor finding something terrible wrong with me?”
Virkler says immediately after asking the question, listen for the next words that come to your mind. God will answer questions in your spontaneous thoughts. Does the Bible speak directly to this? If God doesn’t send three camels to traipse through your living room, how else but through your normal thinking process will He speak to you? Holy Spirit will speak to your mind. Jot down shorthand notes. Do not dismiss any idea no matter how strange. It may lead to an answer.
In addition to the spontaneous words, listen or see the images and visions that come to your consciousness. (Apostle Paul asks God to “open the eyes of our hearts,” Ephesians 1:18-20).
It is in the “Listening” stage that all the voices you told to be quiet will attempt to get your attention, suggest reasons to question the “answers” or try to divert your thinking. Discernment is beneficial. Decree the boundaries and request Holy Spirit discernment.
Assume those initial spontaneous answers to your questions are a possibility. Pursue that possibility by asking friends or relatives who knew you during the period of your life when the event occurred if it connects or makes sense. In spite of what others say, you need to know your own perception. What do you feel about what you heard? You have been explaining your depression, anxiety and mental habits to yourself for a while. A legitimate and non-doubting question is, “What is different this time?”
When we seek God in this way, we are asking for a revelation, an insight. Since you will generally process the revelation through the same mind that vocalized earlier explanations, a second opinion would be helpful. Spiritual revelations are also sent to our spirit—from Spirit to spirit. (See 1 Corinthians 14:14)
Holy Spirit is not limited to giving you information about your past or inadequate responses. You will listen for an alternative way to respond to any triggers.
The Bible base for this practice is Habakkuk 2:1-2.
Professional writers know and tell enquiring novices two things: One, the most important rule to get writing done is to habitually sit your butt on the chair in front of the word processor. Two, expect the first draft to be crappy. You are the primary audience for what you write. Edit what you have heard only to make it clear to you.
Holy Spirit wants to give you direction, guidance, correction, revelation and show you any barriers to His full blessing and fulfillment of your call and potential. He wants you to know His plan and how to attain the goals and dreams He planted in you. Jesus calls your product, “fruit that honors God.”
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).
Say it this way: God has given us power, love and a sound mind.
Let’s do this!
©2022 D. Dean Benton
4 Keys to Hearing God’s Voice, Mark Virkler, 2010 (Destiny Image)