By Justin Rossow
Ask even a faithful follower what Jesus has been speaking into their life lately, and you should expect to get a blank stare. What do you mean, “What has Jesus been speaking into my life??” Does Jesus actually speak to me? How would I even know? Is this a trick question??
The Monday before classes started last fall, my daughter Kate was feeling kind of anxious about her first day of high school. My kids are some of the people who help me follow Jesus, so I asked her, “What has Jesus been speaking into your life lately?”
She was more than willing to play along, but she had no place to begin: “How would I know what Jesus is speaking to me about starting high school?” Fair question.
So I prompted her. “Well, I think you were sitting next to me as we listened to a sermon yesterday,” I said. “Did any of that apply to you, do you think?”
Of course, I had my three things from the sermon I wanted her to remember (no, I wasn’t preaching that day) but I thought it would be better if it came from her.
“The sermon??” Kate asked. “You mean, the sermon counts??”
I’m not sure what she thought I was asking. Did she think I thought Jesus was going to leave her a voicemail, or send a private message on Snapchat? No idea. But once she knew I was asking what she had heard in worship, or what she had been reading of the Bible, or any of the normal places you might find God’s Word, she at least had a place to begin.
In fact, Kate went on to list not only two of my three main thoughts from the sermon, but about six other connections I hadn’t thought of yet. I just made encouraging noises once in a while (and took some notes) while she talked herself out of being nervous about high school and into trusting God’s presence in her life. I count that as a parenting win: Kate was much better at applying Sunday’s sermon to her Monday problem than I would have been. But she needed me to help get her started.
Ask what Jesus is speaking, and you often get blank stares. Ask where is Jesus speaking, and people begin to notice places where God’s Word shows up in their ordinary week.
There’s the sermon (yes, that counts!), and the podcast you listen to; the thing your friend told you they read in the Bible that morning, and the Portals of Prayer that sits in a high-traffic area in your house. You got an email from a family member, and you were still humming a hymn from worship in the car, and your fourth-grader needed help with some Sunday School memory work. You looked at a couple of notes you took on the back of last weekend’s worship folder before you recycled it, you skimmed a Facebook post from one of your favorite Christian authors, and you did manage to read your Bible twice this week!
When you start looking for God’s Word to show up in your life, you start to hear the voice of Jesus speaking in, with, and under the voice of the preacher, the blog writer, the devotional author, and your friend. That’s when you start noticing what Jesus has been saying to you over and over again, all week long. Wondering where leads quite naturally to noticing what.
In the month of January, I kept a calendar of words, phrases, or images that helped me remember the Word of God I encountered each day. (That practice came from my friends at Visual Faith™ Ministry, and you can hear about it in this podcast or find it in the Come, Holy Spirit discipleship travel log.)
Looking back on a month of capturing key concepts from God’s Word, I see not only what Jesus has been speaking into my life, but where.
I finished Luke in 2021 and started reading the Gospel of Mark daily in 2022, though looking back on January, I didn’t actually read Mark daily; plenty of times other places in Scripture demanded my attention. But Mark was always the rhythm I had to fall back on if I didn’t have something more pressing.
I preached a lot in January, and wrote some blogs for the Craft of Preaching, so the verses that were on my heart and mind for those showed up in my own personal devotional life. I also captured verses other people shared with me in a staff meeting, or on a podcast or, yes, in a sermon. One of the things I wrote on my Key Concept Calendar came from a men’s coffee shop Bible study; one came from a Facebook Live devotion; and another even came from a gift mailed to me by a friend.
Of course, verses from Mark keep weaving in and out of my calendar, but I was amazed to see how many different places the Spirit used to put God’s Word into the path of my ordinary, everyday life. Those places Jesus was speaking were all there before I noticed them; but noticing where Jesus is speaking helps me pay attention to what Jesus is speaking in my life.
I’m kind of looking forward to February!