I grew up in a small town in which the local churches took turns hosting mid-week Lenten services. As we worshipped together, we benefited by hearing about God from fresh perspectives through different faith backgrounds.
The hymnals featured unknown arrangements of songs, but the choirs always led wayward singers to the appropriate Hallelujahs. The prayers sometimes seemed strange, but they all got around to Amen with or without everyone following each response.
When I went to live on campus during my college years, I discovered that reading through the Psalms kept me grounded during Lent. I attended chapel services and became active in the Religious Life Council which brought the traveling Great Commission to our school during one spring-term. The new era of emotional Christian rock music broadened my lexicon of hymns with worship songs that could bring forth responsive moments when I sang.
When I married and moved from place to place with my husband, we attended the local churches celebrating Lent in a New England Congregational church, in a Virginian Methodist church, a North Carolina Presbyterian church, a United Church of Canada, and an Alliance Missionary Church of Canada. Navigating our way through the different approaches to Lent gave us the opportunity To Hear His Voice from a fresh perspective in varied places.
Presently I am focusing on Jesus and how He prayed.
He too wanted and needed… To Hear His Voice… the guidance and wisdom of His Father, our God. He prayed for us, and for the purpose of his life to be fulfilled.
Mark 1:35-37 (NIV)
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up left the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him and when they found him, they exclaimed “Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”
Jesus prayed and lived through the ultimate human yearning…To Hear His Voice. He prayed in humility yet with authority. He prayed in gentleness yet with intensity. He prayed in expectation yet with compassion. He prayed for us and He prays with us when we seek His presence today.
Jesus prayed and then He listened…To Hear His Voice.
I cannot immerse myself into Lent without the multitude of songs that come to mind from the history of my worship experiences. Yet this year the season is freshly new as I begin each day praying fervently for the presence of Jesus and to gain His fresh perspective for my life.
Praying and seeking …To Hear His Voice.
When I worked in a high school supporting special needs students, I sometimes had to search for a student who had taken a walk to escape too much human interaction. In fact, we often encouraged our students to use a separation strategy by taking a walk as a calming tool, or as a venting escape. We hoped that they would allow a companion on these walks so that it became either a time to provide silent support or an opportunity for a walk-and-talk. A chance to gain a fresh perspective! However, in a meltdown of feelings often a student would head out on his own and quickly outpace me. So, I would go on a search.
Thankfully our school campus had boundaries surrounded by sports fields and country roads. Thankfully our students created repeated routes that they would pace on these rare occasions. One day I had followed the predictable path of one student over and over again. Every time I turned a corner, I expected to see him in a usual place or with a trusted staff member. As I grew increasingly worried, I circled the outer grounds following the sidewalk that led to the baseball fields. Suddenly I saw him walking towards me with a huge grin on his face. As I neared, he exclaimed, “Mrs. Ford, I found you!”
Imagine that! Sometime along his walk his perspective changed, and he believed that he needed to find me!
I have often replayed that scene in my mind as I ponder what it feels like to be found. To realize that someone wants to come to you so that you may share a walk-and-talk or silent companionship. To seek for someone and to find someone. To rejoice when found.
When the disciples went looking for Jesus in exasperation because “Everyone is looking for you” He very well could have said, “Simon, I found you!”
We forget that as we pray yearning to Hear His voice, He finds us.
I pray that we may sense and know that Jesus continues to find us. He constantly approaches us with joyful delight, to encourage us to continue on our walk-and-talks together so that we may fulfill our life purposes, with fresh perspectives.
Praying and continually seeking …To Hear His Voice.