By now you've probably heard about the controversy: Participants on "The View" were discussing reports that Vice President Mike Pence converses with Jesus, and Joy Behar said, "It's one thing to talk to Jesus. It's another thing when Jesus talks to you. That's called mental illness, if I'm not correct, hearing voices."
Mr. Pence responded that her insult is "evidence of how out of touch some in the mainstream media are with the faith and values of the American people."
As an example of such "faith and values," consider David Wise. He is a Team USA skier who won a gold medal in the freeski halfpipe event at the 2014 Winter Olympics and the 2018 X Games. He skied last night in the Men's Qualifying, falling on his first run but still qualifying for tomorrow's final.
But no matter what he does in South Korea, he knows what matters most in life.
Wise has sustained two injuries and three concussions. In recent years, his sister lost a leg in a boating accident; his father-in-law died; his wife suffered serious postpartum depression and his son had a health crisis he almost didn't survive. His skiing suffered, and some of his sponsors abandoned him.
In his blog, Wise explains how he kept going: "Everything that I have is a gift from God, and He can take it away when He wants to. I am surrounded by people who truly love and support me for who I am, not what I do on a pair of skis and not for any level of success I could attain."
What explains the difference between Joy Behar and David Wise?
"An experiential relationship with the transcendent"
Barry Black is a retired Navy Admiral, now serving as US Senate Chaplain. In an interview yesterday, he offered an explanation for Joy Behar's comments: "The Bible says spiritual things are spiritually discerned and if you do not have a biblical world view or if you do not have an experiential relationship with the transcendent, many times you will undervalue weapons that you use in spiritual warfare."
For many today, the separation of church and state has become the separation of faith and life. We are expected to keep our relationship with Jesus to ourselves. This cultural heresy flies in the face of Jesus' call to be "fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19) as his witnesses to "the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
And it can persuade us that God speaks to us only in church or on Sunday. Nothing could be further from the truth.
"God speaks to us in what happens to us"
Frederick Buechner is one of my all-time favorite writers. His latest book, The Remarkable Ordinary: How to Stop, Look and Listen to Life has been especially profound for me. While it is impossible to summarize fully his remarkable wisdom, I will pass along nine principles that help us encounter God in the "remarkable ordinary" of our lives.
As you read the list, you might ask yourself which is especially relevant to you today.
One: Art stops us, pulling us from life and calling us to listen to a song or look at a painting or a movie. It "frames a moment," turning the moment from chronos (length of time) to kairos (quality of time). We can learn to do the same in every circumstance of our lives.
Two: Because humans are made in God's image (Genesis 1:26-27), we can see him in each other. Buechner offers this practical tip: see other people as family. This helps us choose against anger, revenge, lust, or other destructive emotions that mar our ability to discern the image of God in them.
Three: Since we are made in God's image, we can see him in ourselves as well.
Four: We can meet God in other people's stories since human nature doesn't change. What was relevant to them is relevant to us. Conversely, other people can meet God in our stories.
Five: When we tell our story, we learn our story better. It's like a dream that comes from within us and is about us but also teaches us something about ourselves. Telling our story puts God's work in our lives into words, making it more comprehensible to us.
Six: We can meet God especially in silence. When Job demanded an explanation for his suffering from God, he heard nothing. When God revealed himself to Job, "what Job needed was what he got, which was the vision of God himself." Words can sometimes get in the way of vision.
Seven: "God speaks to us in what happens to us." To hear his voice, we need to ask of our experience, "What was there in it of God?"
Eight: God cannot speak to us as directly as we can speak to each other because he is holy and we are sinful; he is spirit (John 4:24) and we are flesh; he is in heaven and we are on earth. He must mediate his presence to us until that day we see him "face to face" and "know fully" his presence (1 Corinthians 13:12).
Nine: A good discipline is to review your day as it ends, looking for God in your conflicts, periods of peace, and times of joy. And remember always that "underneath are the everlasting arms" (Deuteronomy 33:27).
"Seek me with all your heart"
If David Wise can discern the voice of God amidst devastating circumstances, we can hear his voice in our experiences today. Our Lord promises us, "You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13). When we seek his voice, we will hear his voice.
First published at the Denison Forum.