I was doing so well with my goal of reading one book each month in 2015…that is until we added a second child to our family. Everyone told us that the jump from one child to two is extreme, and they were right! Following our Ethiopia adoption, we now have two toddlers (age 3 and 1) running around the house, but I wouldn’t change our journey for anything. Our lives are crazier, the house is louder, and the mornings start even earlier than ever before in pursuit of an hour of silence before the day starts. At times I honestly wondered if I would ever “hear” from God again!
One of my best friends, Jayson Simonson, recommended this book to me following a lunch conversation we had in Pittsburgh where we talked openly about some of our recent struggles regarding our intimacy with God. I was immediately attracted to Tony’s heart when I read this:
“Instead of planning church calendars with well-fashioned outreaches, elaborate programs, and improved mechanisms for entertainment, what would happen if we just lived so that we were prayerfully prepared to be with people in the God-longing moments that seem to happen all too regularly in this broken and hurting world? God has already promised to be with the mourning. Maybe God will be with us if we are with them.” (Pg 205, Aloof)
I’m actually writing this blog during a 9 hour layover in Atlanta on my way to Nicaragua with Feed the Children to learn more about their child sponsorship programs before I speak on a few tours for them this year. I’m traveling with Dez Duron from The Voice, and Lindsey Nobles from The IF: Gatherings. Before I even set foot on Nicaraguan soil, I know that God’s presence will be felt in a similar way that I felt it earlier this year in Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, and Ethiopia, because we will be amongst the poorest of the poor. You see, oftentimes before I travel, people will ask, “what will you be doing over there”? Interestingly enough, my response should be: “LISTENING.”
“Like it or not, people are transformed by stories. Stories are the language of the heart.” (Pg 112, Aloof)
Most of the times, I travel to these countries to be a listener. A listener to stories from real people with real struggles. My role is not to educate, train, evangelize, disciple, or even “fix” their problems. My role is to be a “voice” for children that are voiceless… to represent communities of people properly by promoting their dignity while still communicating their need. Nicaraguans are the ones that are most equipped to educate, train, share the gospel, disciple and find solutions to problems within their societies…what is lacking however, is a connection to the outside. I live in that unique space between the rich and the poor; the space that requires stories to create impact.
Recently, God used Aloof to help me understand that there will be seasons where it appears God may be “hiding”. I’ve been encouraged through this book by how even in the silence, God is still present, and He is teaching you something. For our family, a season of “silence” was a time that God was preparing us to to hear His voice and be faithful in picking up and moving to Nashville, TN for the health of our family, and the forward movement of our ministry. This decision was made after many early mornings sitting with a cup of coffee and an open Bible, ready to receive God’s direction. When it was clear, we took one small step, and watched as God orchestrated every step after that.
Whenever we have a major decision to make, this is what I typically attempt to do:
- Set aside time to pray
- Communicate to my wife what I’m praying through and ask her to join me
- Check-in with my wife for what God may be saying through her
- Continue to seek The Lord for clarity
- Slowly begin to share what I think I am hearing from God with a very close group of trusted friends and my Dad
- Discern their advice, hesitations, and feedback, and test it up against what God is speaking to me about
- Continue with more days of intentional prayer
- Confirm decision with my wife for sake of unity in our marriage
- Communicate the change to close family and friends
- Communicate the change to those impacted by it (co-workers, ministry supporters, etc)
- Take the 1st step…
This list is no way a “how to hear God’s voice” list. In fact, I am thirsty to learn from others in this area! In what ways are you intentional about decision-making and life-changes? Leave a quick comment… I’m always excited to learn from other people’s experiences!
Regardless of what kind of season you are going through, I believe you will be very encouraged by Tony Kriz’s new book, Aloof and would highly recommend that you pick up a copy soon!
For the least of these,