In these gentle reflections, popular Christian speaker and writer Feinberg (The Organic God) urges readers to listen carefully for the sacred echoes of God's voice amid their daily lives as an "invitation to spiritual awakening." Not one to shy away from the hard questions, Feinberg keeps asking "why?" as she sees others suffer, acknowledging that "prayers of petition force one to live [with] eyes wide open to see what God may do or leave undone." Guided by stories in the Bible such as that of Elijah, she draws from her own life and those of the people around her to illustrate the ways that God speaks and the ways that we must pay attention to hear; topics include reminders to follow God's call, help others, build relationships and be patient through times of waiting. While some readers may want a more in-depth approach to the complexities of petitionary prayer in a world where many prayers don't seem to be answered, Feinberg brings an authentic voiceto a perennially difficult subject, and her book serves as a devotional reminder to look for the signs of God's presence everywhere. (Aug.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The Sacred Echoby Margaret Feinberg
The Sacred Echo challenges readers not to listen for the seemingly distant voice of God as much as to listen for the echo. When God really wants to get your attention, he doesn’t just say something once, he echoes. He speaks through a Sunday sermon, a chance conversation with a friend the next day, and even a random email. The same theme, idea, impression, or… See more details below
The Sacred Echo challenges readers not to listen for the seemingly distant voice of God as much as to listen for the echo. When God really wants to get your attention, he doesn’t just say something once, he echoes. He speaks through a Sunday sermon, a chance conversation with a friend the next day, and even a random email. The same theme, idea, impression, or lesson will repeat itself in surprising and unexpected ways until you realize that maybe, just maybe, God is at work. As God’s voice echoe
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Read an ExcerptThe Sacred Echo
By Margaret Feinberg
Copyright © 2008 Margaret Feinberg
All right reserved.
Chapter One .001 i love you
My mother is a natural lifelong learner, a lover of knowledge, and a hardcore trivia buff. Growing up, I was often annoyed by my mother's in-depth knowledge of everything from rock formations to sea life to plant growth. I considered her information addiction annoying at best, except for one small problem: I turned out just like her.
Now I experience the same mini-high when I learn something new or make a discovery. I want to share my connect-the-dot moments with everyone I meet-whether they want to hear them or not. I am my mother's daughter. Because of my infoneurosis, I actually keep a file of news stories in my desk to satisfy my trivia addiction.
Some of the articles in my file simply confirm what most of us already know. Like, did you know teens average an hour more of sleep each night than their parents? I have the study to prove it. Some of the clippings are reminders that small things can make a big difference. For instance, did you know that the average American tosses out seven and a half pounds of garbage each day? Seems like a good reason to recycle. Some of the clippings just make me feel better about myself. One of my all-time favorites, "Fat-bottomed Girls Are Smarter," includes a study of more than 16,000 women that found curvy girls (and their moms) outscored skinny chicks on standardized tests. Now that's good trivia.
One of thearticles that recently made its way into my collection was on bat sonar. Random, I know, but that goes with the territory of being an info-maniac. Bats fascinate scientists because of their ability to see in the dark using the echoes of their ultrasonic calls. They send out a frequency that illuminates the environment so they can travel safely in the dark. Pretty cool. While most bats emit their ultrasonic calls from their mouths, about 300 species fire it out of their noses. The process is called echolocation.
Like most snappy words, echolocation percolates in my mind because of its precision in describing a scientifically inexplicable process. Additional research reveals that scientists are still grappling to understand a lot about bats. For example, if a bat is feeding in the dark and you throw a pebble in its trajectory, the creature will dodge the rocky bullet. But if a large insect crosses the same bat's trajectory, the bat will fly toward the savory snack. In less than a second, a bat is able to determine whether he's encountering food or foe. Even with modern technology and gizmos, scientists still can't create a device that emulates what a bat does naturally.
Sandwiched safely in my file drawer, the story piques my spiritual imagination. When it comes to prayer, all too often, I feel like a bat with broken sonar. I go through life when something unidentifiable - a decision, an opportunity, a possibility-enters my trajectory. I don't know how to respond. At the last possible moment, I finally remember to cry out, "God, is this a trap or a treat?"
It's like I'm flying in the dark with regards to my relationship with God. Though I have a hunch he's there somewhere, I can't see him. I do what comes naturally. I let out a sound, a solo prayer, and wait to see what, if anything, comes back.
Like echolocation, there's a lot about the process of prayer that's still a mystery.
I wish prayer was simple, clean, and clear instead of complex, messy, and complicated. I wish hearing from God was as easy as clipping articles and slipping them into a drawer. Then, I could simply open a file anytime and find the exact answer, direction, and encouragement I needed in the moment.
Instead, I find myself calling out to God, hoping he's listening, fingers crossed for a reply. Some people call that faith. For me, it's desperation. The very act of prayer demands vulnerability-an acknowledgement that I don't have all (if any) of the answers, I can't do things on my own, and I'm in need. Intimate prayer is disrobing.
Sometimes after I've poured my head and heart out to God, I'll take a breath long enough to ask, "God, what's on your heart?"
On more occasions than I can remember, I have experienced a single word response to this question as an echo in my soul:
Like a feather gently resting on a silky blanket, the word lies soft and tender on my soul. In my heart and mind, it's like God is saying, I love you. In those moments, the concerns and weights I've unleashed in prayer disappear, and I am enveloped in the height, depth, and width of God's love. I find myself caught up in praise, worship, and adoration. I don't want to leave; I don't want to let go of thanking God. Though my desire for God is great, it's sadly not long until I lose that sense of wonder in the midst of daily duties. Like a hotline to God, prayer is available throughout the day, but I find myself forgetting to pick up the phone.
In my mind, I know that God loves me every day, but it's far too rare when I feel it in my heart. When those occasions arrive, I want to savor them like the finest chocolate.
As far as my relationship with God, I sometimes feel like Dory in the animated movie Finding Nemo or Lucy (played by Drew Barrymore) in 50 First Dates. Wide-eyed and playful, I have chronic spiritual short-term memory loss. Almost as if each time God speaks, it's just like the first time-even if he's said something a dozen times before. I sit in wonder of God's voice-in the depth, the resolution, and the awe of the encounter. Then, I stop long enough to think, "Hey, that sounds familiar! I think I've heard something like that before."
I love you. Oh yeah! God really does love me!
In his grace, God reminds me once again that his love is true, his love is real. In those moments, I can't help but wonder, God, why do you have to keep telling me you love me? Shouldn't I already know that by now? Am I just spiritually forgetful or is there something more?
I've been so bothered by this issue that I have turned to friends, fellow followers, and even Bible scholars to try to decipher why. Most respond with some variation of the same answer: God uses repetition, because you don't hear him the first time.
While that answer contains truth, something about the explanation feels thin to me. The idea that God speaks repetitively because we're slow to comprehend essentially paints a portrait of God's children as toddlers. While there may be some truth in that as evidenced by my own Dory-and-Lucy-like tendencies, I'm not satisfied with the answer. I read of too many men and women in the Bible, including Noah, Abraham, and Mary, who responded to God's voice the first time.
A thicker, more substantial answer is that God speaks frequently and repetitively because we're so easily distracted. Like a surprise guest at a party, distraction can make a stealth entrance at an opportune time and steal the show. Maybe one of the primary reasons God echoes is so we keep our focus on the most important, not just the most imminent.
While that response makes more sense in my mind and heart, I have a hunch that the reason behind the sacred echo goes even deeper: God is relationally driven. The sacred echo emanates simply out of who he is and his desire to connect with us. Think about it for a moment: Why does God speak the same core messages throughout Scripture? I love you. I love you. I love you.
Most, if not all, of the sacred echoes of God throughout the Bible orbit around the idea of relationship. God offers countless incentives for engaging in a relationship with him and strategically instructs us to avoid any attitudes or activities that impede that relationship. Indeed, God is relationally driven. He whispers, he speaks, and he echoes, because he wants to be with us in thought, word, and deed.
That's why when I open the Bible I don't just find instructions for life or a history book, but I also discover a series of love letters. From Genesis to Revelation, God's love expresses itself in countless ways, stories, and lives. God and his love are manifested in the person of Jesus and demonstrated through his life, death, resurrection, and promise of imminent return.
Excerpted from The Sacred Echo by Margaret Feinberg Copyright © 2008by Margaret Feinberg.Excerpted by permission.
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