Asking and Listening

In my last three weeks before we leave San Francisco, I’m leading my Bible study through a course on God’s direction in our lives and our individual giftedness. It’s a course designed by my spiritual director, Debby Bellingham. It’s called “Kaleo,” the Greek word for calling.

Last night we discussed the idea of calling: the preconceived notions we bring to the word, the ways we struggle with the idea that there is one “great calling” that we have to somehow decipher among the possibilities in our lives, the fear that we just might miss it or mistake something else for that calling.

In her book, Servant Leaders, Servant Structures, Elizabeth O’Connor makes this statement about calling:

“Actually call was to come to most of us through the ordinary events of life, which were to be extraordinary events because we brought to them a new quality of asking and listening.”

What a profound thought. That in the midst of the most ordinary events of our lives: in the spreading peanut butter, the answering of the phone, the planning of meals, the folding of clothes. In the dullness of our days at work: the presentations, the conversations with frustrating co-workers, the lunches in the break room. In the moments at the grocery store, on the bus ride home. In the putting to bed of our children, the relaxing on the couch, the list making and email responding.

In all those ordinary moments, there is the possibility of the extraordinary. The possibility that God is carving something deep into our souls, preparing us for our great role in the story he’s telling. That possibility exists when we are open to the work of God’s spirit in our lives. When we ask for God and when we listen for God.

So here’s my question: How do you make room to ask and listen in the midst of the most ordinary parts of your day?

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8 Comments

Filed under the Praying Life

8 responses to “Asking and Listening

  1. I had a spiritual director once ask me what element I most identified with when it came to meditation. I had thought about it before, though without realizing that was what I was think of, so the answer came rather quickly: water. I’ve always had an affinity for being caught in rain, spending too much time in the shower, swimming anywhere that I can. I have come to realize that how I have found the place of asking and listening has been through the idea of water, that God, like water, surrounds and permeates all areas of my world, that if “in Him we move an have our being,” I literally, at least it has been the best way for me to think of it, move in Him. I step forward in Him, I spread peanut butter in Him, I breathe in Him. The asking and listening then is just the natural response of that life. Certainly not always perfect, more forgotten than it should be, but framed in a context that I find consuming in the most abundant way.

  2. This isn’t exactly an answer to your question, but my husband and I were just commenting this morning that some huge calls and changes in our lives are traced back to some seemingly mundane events and that God has dramatically directed our lives using the subtlest of methods. The small and unimportant moment when a former student wanted to drop off a set of dominoes triggered a series of upsetting things that snowballed into a career change and then a baby much sooner than we imagined. I am amazed to see such a clear redirection in our lives. I could have never predicted the wonderful things He had for us. Here, too, small things became great and great things became small.

  3. Two thoughts:

    1. I love Elizabeth O’Connor. Letters to Scattered Pilgrims is a bright light of warmth and peace.

    2. In a shameless act of self-promotion, here’s a link to an essay I wrote on calling if anyone’s exceptionally bored: https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B58pZ0J0-7iIZGI4YWEyNzktZTIwNy00Y2E2LWI1MGQtZTY1N2JmYjc0ZjI0&hl=en

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  5. I often have to remind myself that the ordinary moments of my day can be worship. It is something I struggle with. Remembering that the ordinary moments are in their own way extraordinary. I named my blog Ordinarily Extraordinary to help me keep my focus on remembering how extraordinary an ordinary life can be. Thanks for sharing your beautiful thoughts.

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