This past Sunday, we invited Myron Penner to be a guest teacher in our adult SS class. He's an Associate Professor of Philosophy at TWU and also a personal friend.
I've never been too philosophically inclined but being married to Larry for 28 years has increased my appreciation for how philosophy-type minded people think and that there is value in that discipline. It's not just some esoteric highbrow thing that has no bearing on the way we live our lives. But I'm still glad he was fairly down to earth in what and how he presented his material on dealing with doubt. His first premise, namely that we have an obligation as Christians to have an informed and thoughtful reason for why we believe what we believe, has stuck with me this week.
Obligation. Probably not a word that we like taking to heart, especially when it might inconvenience us. And yet, we all have them. I have obligations as a wife, a mother, a daughter, an employee, etc. And then I started wondering whether I might have obligations to God, to let Him work what He needs to work in me.
I recently bought this book and loved it. I can see why Margaret Feinberg "has been named one of the "Thirty Emerging Voices" of Christian leaders under age 40 by Charisma magazine."
This book was an excellent continuation for me on hearing God's whisper and being aware of how He might be getting my attention. As I was reflecting on this obligation thing and how that relates to growing and maturing in my Christian faith, I remembered Feinberg's thoughts on prayer:
Through prayer I discover things about myself and God I could not discover any other way. Prayer provides a mirror to my soul. Through prayer, my motives and attitudes are brought to the light. Through prayer, I can explore the source of my less-than-becoming behavior. Along the way I discover unsuspected roots of unforgiveness, agreement with things that simply aren't true, and places of woundedness that otherwise go unnoticed, and worse, unhealed.
Through prayer, I discover the shadows of my sin and recognize the luminescence of God's redemption and restoration. During prayer, my eyes shift from self-focus to God-awareness, and I find myself with a heavenly perspective that is not my own. Looking at life through God's perspective changes everything. When my eyes are locked on him, I discover a God who is not only bighearted but also outrageously generous, abundantly kind, and surprisingly talkative. Through this lens, my behemoth issues and rickshaw weaknesses gain proper perspective.
Through prayer, I answer the call of Hebrews 12:2 to fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith, and I am empowered not only to see more clearly but also to obey more readily.
You know what else I like about her approach? She values Scripture and based on the questions for reflection and/or discussion at the back of the book, her focus is mostly on Scripture and connecting what God's word says with what You've heard Him say to you. From my limited reading, it seems that emphasis has largely been forgotten or missing so it's been a timely reminder for me on this part of my journey.
And on a not-altogether unrelated topic, let me recommend this book that has themes of redemption, friendship and maybe even obligation running through it. For those of you looking for excellent fiction, written by a Christian, but not the typical lightweight Christian variety, well, maybe this will sell you again on trying fiction written by Christians. It's worth a try.