At StarGift we often suggest seeking God as a first step to growing faith. From time to time someone asks “How do I start seeking God?” And so we make suggestions for getting started, many different suggestions, because we are all different and what is right for one, what enables one to open their heart may be different from what inspires another to do so.
We are not theologians. We are no experts. We are people who have sought God and found great joy in doing so. That is our only credential!
In this article, we’d like to share a new guide to seeking God.
How many of you remember “Schoolhouse Rock!”
Yes, it was that educational series on ABC television in the 1970s. You can learn more about SchoolHouse Rock at this slideshow. Or you can check out the wikipedia article cited below:
“Schoolhouse Rock! is an American interstitial programming series of animated musical educational short films (and later, videos) that aired during the Saturday morning children’s programming block on the U.S. television network ABC. The topics covered included grammar, science, economics, history, mathematics, and civics. The series’ original run lasted from 1973 to 1985; it was later revived with both old and new episodes airing from 1993 to 1999. Additional episodes were produced in 2002 and 2009 for direct-to-video release.”
The man that brought us Schoolhouse Rock, the television executive “who led Good Morning America to first place for the first time,” is Squire Rushnell. Today, Rushnell is an author and inspirational speaker. Read about him at this Wikipedia article.
Rushnell also created the expression ‘Godwink’ to explain well, the otherwise unexplainable. He has written several books, some on the New York Times bestseller list.
In this article we’d like to share some thoughts about and from “Divine Alignment: How GodWink Moments Guide Your Journey,” by Squire Rushnell.
One of the ideas we find interesting and helpful for the novice beginning to seek God is the comparison of God, whom Rushnell calls “The Navigator,” to a GPS Navigation system. This navigation system supports Divine Alignment: “the arrangement of coincidences into a pattern of alignment so astonishing they could have come only from a higher source.” It is the communication with this navigator that enables us to tap into Divine Alignment, and recognize the guidance to make decisions that advance our lives according to the divine plan for our lives. It will teach you how to talk with God, how to get to know Him, how to engage in relationship with Him.
“Each of us is born with a built-in GPS. God’s Positioning System.”
“Right from birth, we come equipped with a highly sophisticated navigational package that—through an internal voice of intuition and godwinks—divinely aligns us with people, as well as events, who assist us in reaching our destiny and keep us from losing our way.”
Digest that for a moment. Think about your life experiences. Do you have an inner voice that makes suggestions? Do you recognize moments when you experience ‘intuition?’ It’s kind of like magic isn’t it? Have you ever had an experience that was so coincidental as to make you wonder how it could be? Do you have a conscience that keeps you from doing things that you ‘know’ intuitively are wrong? Do you have a conscience that makes you uncomfortable with any choice to ignore? Do you have a conscience that encourages you to put someone else before your own needs or desires?
If so, you can confirm this idea of an internal navigation system based on your own experience. I know I can.
There are many books and movies out today that show a theme of inter-connectedness. One of the first that really grabbed my attention was “Where the Heart Is” a novel by Billie Letts published in 1995. What a magical story of real people encountering one another, sharing something unexpected, helping one another, changing lives even as their own life was changed. As I read it, I thought, this author has captured the mystery of the universe. And that led me to read her subsequent books, all magical in their own right.
And it made me realize that I was not alone in feeling, being aware of, this inter-connectedness between people and events.
Have you noticed this in your own life? Have you noticed that some people come into your life, sometimes for very short times, and you have the opportunity to gladly help them? Have you noticed afterwards that you came away changed to the better for the experience? Perhaps you learned something new, maybe about yourself, maybe about people in general. Have you noticed that when you are worried or frustrated or in a dark place, how often someone encounters you and shares something that is helpful to you? Do you realize in the aftermath that they also got something from you? Have you noticed?
Well, Rushnell, in talking about Divine Alignment is talking about such experiences; those which seem so serendipitous; those that are life-changing. His point is, that is the navigator guiding you through your GPS. He is quick to point out that you are not just a passenger. “Your hands are on the steering wheel most of the way. And one of the gifts you are given, factory installed, is free will.”
“You’re free to go too fast or too slow. To be reckless or responsible. Or even free to drive off the highway altogether, if that’s what you choose.”
Once he has developed this metaphor for guidance from God, Bushnell turns to how one can communicate with the navigator.
OK, stop and think about that. How do you imagine people communicate with God? That’s right; through prayer! Have you ever prayed? Are you put off by the idea? Do you feel you can’t because you don’t really know how?
Ah, well, you are not alone. But prayer is not complicated and does not need to be poetic, and it certainly doesn’t need to be in an Aramaic language or Latin or Greek. It doesn’t even have to be out loud.
The point is, prayer is just having a chat with God. Imagine that God is your best friend, or your dearly loved parent and you want to share with them and get their advice. Just talk with God. Inside your head if that is more comfortable for you. That is where you start when you seek to know God, just as you would with anyone with whom you hope to grow a relationship.
Rushnell not only provides metaphors that may help you make a connection in your own mind to the presence of God in your life but his books are also filled with accounts of other people, some famous, that testify to the godwinks in their lives. And that helps you to feel that this is real. It’s not just you. For one example he tells of a scientist, an aetheist who was challenged whether scientists made decisions without first examining all of the data. That led to a transformation in his belief.
I don’t want to replicate those stories, so instead, I’d like to share just one story of godwinks in my life.
I was raised Presbyterian because my father was Presbyterian, the grandson of a Presbyterian minister. My brothers and I attended Sunday school, and as teens were active in our Jr. and then Sr. youth groups. My mother had been raised Russian Orthodox but she told me she was agnostic. She just didn’t know about God.
By my late teens I was allowing doubt to grow in my mind. I mean that quite literally. We all have doubt from time to time but we can focus on those things that have brought us to faith. . .rather than let the doubt grow. But I was willfully letting it grow, unchecked.
I went off to college where I was exposed to so many different philosophies. . .and one of these I will call ‘Intelligence Philosophy.’ The idea here is that people of intelligence do not believe in God, only the naïve do; those who can’t reason out the whys and wherefore of everything. There is no ‘science’ to support the notion of God. Intelligent people are too smart to succumb to such silliness! I thought I was intelligent, at least reasonably so. I was interested in philosophy and bought into the line of thinking. Hmmmmm. I was letting doubt grow unchecked because I thought I was ‘smart;’ smarter than those who so foolishly believed in what they could not see.
Even so, there was always a little nagging voice. . .questioning my doubt. So here I have doubt questioning faith, and a little voice questioning doubt. But, I did not listen to that little voice. Instead I began to reason that Jesus was a fictional character in a book much like Aesop’s Fables with lots of stories that supposedly provide a moral lesson. . .or something like that. With that thinking, any truth of the Bible was just some wisdom expressed by some people who wrote these stories. Not that they didn’t have moral import but. . .they are not the word of God. Well, that’s what I chose to believe. . .at the time.
As my life progressed, I married and had children all of which was wonderful, and had a career as an educator [think about that!] But I also experienced problems. There were certainly downs with the ups as is the case with all of us! There was tension and anger in my home and I had a couple of adolescent children who ran out of control periodically. They were flirting with danger and acting out, although I did not see it clearly at the time. Where did my beautiful loving children go? No matter how hard I tried to figure out how to help ground them, I failed.
I left their Dad and eventually there was a divorce. I was fortunate to change careers and I spent most of my time working, trying to keep work away from home and home away from work, and trying to glue our lives back together and get my children on track and in a good place. As smart as I evidently thought I was, I continuously failed. Hold that thought for a moment. I’ll get back to it.
Now, I love to read. And I love even more walking through library shelves and books stores, looking at titles, reading first pages, and finally selecting a book to bring home. . .or not. So one day I was walking through a bookstore in a local mall. I picked up several books, one at a time, looked them over. . .and put them back on the shelf. Choosing the book you really want to read can be challenging! Sometimes you bring home a book and it holds you riveted every second of the reading. At other times, the book falls far short of being ‘the right book.’
As I wondered through the store I sspotted a book titled: Archaeology and the Bible [or something close to that]. “What!” I thought. “I love archaeology! But what on earth can they mean by Archaeology and the Bible? The Bible is fiction!” I picked up the book and looked it over. No doubt I read some of the statements about the book. I likely opened to the first page and started to read. And then I slid that book back into it’s place on the shelf, and continued on down the aisle; maybe 4 or 5 steps. Then I backed up and pulled the book from the shelf again. Could this be the book for me today? I went through the process again, of looking it over. . .and then put it back on the shelf. I’m sure I was thinking about spending the $8.00 or so it must have cost and wondering if I would be pleased with the purchase. I again continued down the aisle. I made it a little further and felt, I’ve got to get that book. So back I went, and again looked it over. And again I put it back.
I’ll bet I went through that cycle about 6 times. Finally, I thought to myself, ”this is getting ridiculous. Apparently I am supposed to get this book”. . .or maybe it was “apparently this book wants to go home with me!” So, I did buy that book.
I loved it. It was fascinating and it opened my eyes to the ‘history’ of the Bible. You see it was about archaeological finds that demonstrate the historical truth of many events documented in the Bible. That was kind of earth shattering for someone who had convinced themselves that the Bible was a work of fiction. The Bible is a historical account. And if that is true, what of the ‘characters’ in the Bible? Was Jesus really a man who lived and not just a fictional character? My perspective shifted.
That was just the first godwink. There have been many more. . .but that is the one that started me thinking about the philosophy of ‘intelligence’ and how flawed it may be. It started me thinking about how I had pushed Jesus out of the way. It made me curious about Him. And that led eventually to the quite accidental discovery of another book, from what I thought was an unlikely source, a very thin book, called “The Life and Times of Jesus” I think. But, that’s another godwink story.
Now getting back to the issues with my children and how to bring them safely back on track: I will tell you that the godwinks eventually led me to trust in God and turn to Him for guidance for myself and for my children; I prayed that He would open their eyes. And that made all the difference! If you muster the spark of faith that reside within you, and turn to God, your faith will be rewarded; and it will grow.
If you are serious about wanting to get to know God, perhaps because you have an inner voice nagging at you, or because you know what it means and want to have that relationship, we’d like to encourage you to pick up a copy of “Divine Alignment: How GodWink Moments Guide Your Journey,” by Squire Rushnell and learn more about getting started. Or pick up any book by Squire Rushnell that references godwinks.
Oh, buying books is not in your budget? Well, stop by a public library and get a card. They are free and renting books is free if you return them on time. The library may even have books on tape if you’d rather listen than read yourself.
Don’t be intimidated. Go for it. God will welcome you. He, the navigator, is waiting for your question.