Two people live with meager financial resources. One of them is consumed by envy and discontent; the other is radiant with gratitude and servanthood. Their net worth is the same. The difference is in their minds.
Two people reach the top of their organizations. One uses power for self-aggrandizement and control; the other uses it to enhance the lives of everyone in the community. Their titles are the same. The difference is in their minds.
Two people live in a universe where God is always present. One of them decides that “in all my thoughts there is no room for God.” The other says, “Always before me I set you, O Lord.” God’s offer of availability is the same. The difference is in their minds.
The mind is an instrument of staggering potential. But its potential is not measured by IQ or academic degrees. For it is in our minds that we live in conscious awareness of and interaction with God.
“We all hear voices. . . .” At least I do. Some of them are distorted and destructive; they speak to me thoughts of envy and resentment and fear. Some of them are healthy and strong; they speak words of love and truth. The ones I listen to shape my life.
But there’s one Voice above all to which we’re called to listen. Jesus said that he is the Good Shepherd and that “his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”
Throughout history, those who have practiced God’s presence most have insisted that they hear his voice. They have learned, so to speak, to program their minds to be constantly receiving the divine channel. “The word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.”
Social reformer Dorothy Day, who did much work on behalf of the poor in the twentieth century, spoke of what she called her “notions”—ideas that had the unmistakable stamp of God’s authorship in her mind. George Fox and the Quaker tradition called them “concerns.” Others speak of “promptings” or “leadings.” Thomas Kelly wrote of “divine breathings.”
The mind is an instrument of staggering potential, but its potential is not measured by IQ or academic degrees.
Ortberg, John. 2009. God Is Closer than You Think. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
We have just completed a 10-Part Study of John Ortberg’s book, God Is Closer Than Your Think. It is available as part of Good Questions Have Groups Talking Lesson Subscription Service. It is also available on Amazon