I am fascinated by slang expressions.
A slang expression I have heard in recent years is “in my wheelhouse” which means that when a topic comes up that a person claims as their area of expertise, it is common to hear the “expert” say “that is in my wheelhouse.”
When I picked Dallas Willard’s book Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God, it struck me that I have studied communication in some form all my academic life. I began with the study of the written word and then I branched out to public communication [the study of speaker to audience] and finally the study of one-to-one communication [interpersonal communication].
This journey began in 1972 and I still have an active interest in 2015 even though I am retired from paid teaching of communication.
It seems to me that a thorough understanding of communication is necessary to have a good idea of what hearing from God would be.
Let’s begin with the basics and I promise not to be too pedantic as I explain my “take” on communicating with God. Hearing is not what I do with God so I guess I would question Dr. Willard’s title. Hearing is a physiological response to sound and if you are not blocking sound to your ears, you are hearing. Say you don’t “hear” from God as a voice communicating to you. The hearing is really a feeling. I guess that may make it ok to use that word but I still think that listening would be a better word than hearing. Listening means decoding the message that you are receiving. With hearing, you are just responding; with listening you are making meaning of the messages or feelings from God. I would say that I am trying to understand or make meaning from God’s messages.
Conversational is another word in the title that makes it sound like communication is occurring. God “speaks” to you in some form. Do you speak back?
Many people do pray and they have active daily prayer life and some people may pray several times throughout their day.
When you look at the model above, you see sender [which could be God] and the receiver [which could be you]. The message could be telephone, memo, letter etc. but in the model let’s substitute verbal, word from God [the Bible], intermediary [a Godly person] etc. Notice the lightning bolt through the model. That “noise” lightning bolt is very real. It could represent anything that gets in the way of you receiving God’s message [noise, a distraction or a disruption].
These things really occur. Have you been worried about something so much that you missed God’s message? I am sure you have. Have you been distracted by a new toy so much that you missed God’s message [let’s say a new car]. Has there been so much upset in your life that you missed God’s message [maybe you have disruptive bad health news].
The bottom line is this: “worldly” noise can cause you to miss God’s message for you. If you don’t miss it entirely, you may not get the whole message. Noise gets in the way of understanding.
The receiver [you] are a living breathing entity, fully capable of sending back messages to God. Let’s just keep this simple and call these messages prayer.
As prayer messages go back to God, guess what happens—that same intervening factor, noise.
Again, distraction and disruption come into play and maybe your prayers get “off track” and you are not praying in God’s will due to your lack of concentration. Those prayers may not be your best but they occur due to the noise factor.
What do you think?
Do you have a conversational relationship with God? If you do, you and God exchange roles from time to time. You initiate communication instead of God.
I want to be honest; I feel God has spoken to me. It is not something that I admit to just anyone but since we are writing about this topic, it is best to be open about this. Sometimes I initiate the communication as I pray to Him and ask him to help me with decisions. Sometimes I put problems to him and ask Him to solve my problems [I can’t solve them alone]. Sometimes I ask Him to put me where I need to be to serve Him [which can cause anxiety, but I do it]. You never know what will happen, but the situation you find yourself in is God’s response sometimes.
If you have a conversational relationship with God, you are switching roles with Him. You are having a dialogue. If you are praying and getting no answer, that is not a dialogue; that is a monologue. If God is speaking to you and you are not decoding His messages, then God is having a monologue and you are His intended receiver.
But you are not processing His messages.
Based on my study of communication what would help us all to have a “conversational relationship” with God?
Well that will be in my next post.
Right now, let’s just consider the communication model and how it fits your relationship with God.
Are you conversational as you are encountering God?
Or are you having a monologue?
Are you fighting noise by not giving into distraction and disruption?
Or are you giving into the booming, buzzing confusion of this world?
If Dr. Willard is right in his title and his book is about developing a conversational relationship with God, where does the communication model work for you? Where are your weak points?
God is in total control of life [including you]. What can you do to be in his “wheelhouse?”