One of the things I love about God is that he speaks.
This for many of us in a western culture is a little disconcerting. We've learned from a young age to be suspicious of anything we can't physically measure and any interactions of a spiritual nature are placed on the 'suspicious' list.
Some in reaction to this look for spiritual experience to answer everything and can end up leaving sense and the discernment of our minds out of the picture.
I believe there is a 'radical middle' (to coin a Vineyard term) where we can embrace a wonderfully dynamic friendship with a living God who is speaking all of the time - using the mind and body he has given us to discern what is his good, pleasing and perfect will (Rom 12:2).
Where do we start? Well, when we are building something we always start with the foundation. For those who follow Christ, we have the written testimony of God's interaction with humanity throughout history (what we call the Bible). This provides us with a place from which to build [Note: I know that in our culture there are many challenges to the authenticity of the Bible but many who have taken a careful look at its reliability and historicity have shown the Bible (interpreted and understood rightly in it's cultural context) stands up to much of this historical and textual criticism].
When builders (especially in ancient times) were putting in foundations they would have placed a cornerstone in first. This stone was the position from which all other stones and materials took their measurement and direction. Saint Paul describes Christ this way (Eph 2:19-22 & 1 Cor 3:11). So when we read, study and think about what the Bible says we take our measurement from the teachings and life of Christ.
We also have another gift, we have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit (God's Presence With Us), he is the behind the scenes author of the Bible and so he can help us understand it and make it come alive to us.
Action: do you have a practice of reading or listening to, thinking upon and studying the Bible? If not, this is a great place to start.
So, God speaks through his word, the Bible. But he also speaks in many other creative ways (more on this at a later date).
My life is full of hundred's of moments, some dramatic and some subtle, of God speaking to me in a very personal and real way. These are the moments that keep me going when things don't make sense. Many of them on their own could be explained as coincidences, but when the same coincidences keep happening over and over again, even the most cynical mind should have cause to pay attention.
As God speaks personally and creative in many ways to us - it opens our hearts and minds to the expansive relationship with God that is available to us. One of those little coincidences happened to me the other day. Let me tell you about it:
I had been listening to a talk on faith and had written down a phrase in my journal that was helping me maintain an attitude of faith in my life. When I felt overwhelmed or afraid I imagined God speaking to me the phrase "you got this." Nothing profound there, right? I know, but nonetheless it was helpful to me. Then a day after listening to this talk I was in a shop to buy a diary and in the diary section there was a wooden ornament sitting there with the words "you got this". Coincidence? Maybe, but when this happen's again and again I think it's not too far a stretch to believe it to be a personal God interacting with me in a personal way. To coin a phrase that Tim Keller uses it gives me reason to be cynical about my cynicism.
What seeming 'coincidences' is God speaking to you through today?