In this week's Writers Wednesday Blog Johnny Douglas reflects on finding God in the supermarket, as he reviews Bill Cahusac's brilliant new book, That Gentle Whisper.
I don’t have great expectations when I go to the supermarket. The aim is to get in and get out as quickly as possible.
On this occasion, a man spins around and says, ‘Oh!’
I say, ‘Yes, that! … but you can call me Johnny’ in quick reply.
The clerical collar has given it away. I ask him to share a bit of his story, and we get talking. We talk for a while, and his conclusion is one of sheer bemusement.
‘You don’t believe all that?!’
‘Yes, I believe … ’ was my reply.
There follows an intriguing verbal tussle. He says you can’t seriously. I assure him you can. I assure him that, yes, I do, I believe in God the Father. Creedal confession time in aisle eleven – as unexpected for me as it evidently is for him.
And yet this clearly isn’t about a statement of faith or delving into the particularities of orthodoxy, but instead, a genuine struggle to believe, or at least to connect. So, I pray, urgently asking God and to make himself known. Specifically.
I venture, ‘If God could make a difference in your life right now, what would it be?’ Which elicits a vague response. I ask God to reveal more. Three sentences follow … and he tears up.
I choke too as the words, specific unknowable details from God, become clear. I lean in and trust God to give me words, for his Holy Spirit to prompt me.
In that moment, God gave me insight that I didn’t have. In the interruption of the weary and sheer ordinary of aisle eleven in the supermarket, came his provision. God’s resources are always plentiful. Insight and directness wrapped up in the compassion and kindness of God followed. Entirely outside of my range. Ambushing me again.
I gave the man in aisle eleven my card, promising a decent coffee and more conversation if he would like it.
The late, great Dallas Willard said it well: ‘God is surprisingly chatty!’ He proved it then, as he has done so many times. Sometimes daily, if I’m willing to allow myself to be interrupted.
Bill Cahusac, in his new book, That Gentle Whisper: Learning to Recognise God’s Voice in a Noisy World dares us to give Jesus our full attention. Through a clear sweep of prayer, presence, Scripture and knowledge, we are invited to the most authentic life as followers of Jesus.
Intimacy, obedience and adventure punctuate this writing well. The naturally supernatural in the everyday is the pathway, detailed with ease and delight here. It’s all about unexpected supermarket moments, the taxi ride moments, the walking-the-dog moments. Cahusac weaves Scripture, teaching and stories with accompanying practices following each chapter. The call to ‘pray, practise and persevere’ is enough. Cahusac writes with a winsome gentleness, Godly strength and kingdom clarity. This is an integrated and accessible prophetic lifestyle painted well.
Brave conversations matter. Three sentences beyond our comfort levels are where we meet God. Every day is an invitation from God. Every human encounter is full of kingdom possibilities. Courageous, faithful Christianity greets the stranger, responds to the Holy Spirit clues and goes with it. We honour God, serve others well and get to have a glorious adventure along the way … and supermarket moments never have to be the same again.
About the Author
Johnny Douglas is an unlikely vicar and life coach. He’s a lapsed cellist, loves encouraging and equipping others, and a good day always includes three good coffees.