Last week I spent part of my time while suffering with migraines reading the first three books of the Inheritance cycle, more commonly known as Eragon, Eldest, and Brisingr. All three together are about 2000 pages, so it took a bit of effort. The reason I read them all is because my younger son has read all three and my oldest was already on Eldest. I like to know what my children are reading and while I knew the series came highly recommended, I still like to make sure I know what the content is in case they have questions or in case there is something in there that I find at odds with what I believe or feel is right and/or important. Overall, the books are a good read if you like fantasy books. They are substantially better than the Harry Potter series, as the main character is expected to do what’s right because it is right and when he doesn’t, he pays a heavy price (Harry seems to succeed more when he breaks the rules). It also shows that not everything works out the way you’d like it because you’d want it too, as the main character suffers some losses that are personally devastating to him. And it shows that the main character has flaws and makes his mistakes and that they aren’t always a good thing in the end, which is how much of Harry Potter’s “mistakes” work out.
Needless to say, I enjoyed reading the three and I’m looking forward to when the fourth one comes out. But the purpose of this BE isn’t to give a book review on the three books, but rather to discuss what I learned from it, how that applies to the Christian walk, and the care that must be taken when learning from something other than Scripture. So what did I learn? Basically the same thing I talked about yesterday, that there must be an intentional process to groom my boys to be godly men. The main character’s name is Eragon (hence the title of the first book) and when he embarks on a journey not of his choosing, he immediately gains some very powerful enemies. Another character, Brom, begins to teach him what he must know to survive all the while trying to keep Eragon alive. Brom isn’t what he seems and if you’ve read the books you know what I’m talking about. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t. In the first book you see Brom being systematic about Eragon’s accelerated learning. In the second book you come to appreciate just how quickly Brom built his system for Eragon, the choices he made, and how he used every moment he could, especially considering what they were facing. This all served as a reinforcement to what I had already learned through other avenues about teaching my sons. It was as if God was reaching down and saying, “It is that important. Get to it.”
Now it’s important to recognize here that I’m finding guidance in something outside of Scripture. If you’ve taken or read the course/book Experiencing God, then you probably remember that life experience is one way we determine what God’s will is. However, and this is a big however, that life experience had better be checked against the light of Scripture. We have plenty of life experiences and the majority of them probably don’t point us towards God’s will. Therefore, if we only rely on our own experiences, it’s very easy to misinterpret something we want and call it God’s will. But it really isn’t God’s will at all. And that’s why Scripture is so crucial. What we think God is saying to us must be checked against Scripture. In this particular case, I’ve done that. And I have examples like:
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. – Proverbs 22:6, NIV
These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. – Deuteronomy 6:6-7, NIV
I have an accountability before God to ensure that my boys are raised up to know His ways and His commandments. What they do with that teaching is up to them. But I’m to provide it. And that’s how I know that this is an area God wants me to invest in. This is an area I must work on, because it is that important for the proper growth of my boys. I do not want to stand before God and hear Him say, “You had an opportunity to train your boys in My ways. You had the responsibility to ensure they knew I was to be feared and worshipped. And you failed to carry that out properly. Why?” There isn’t an answer that I could provide that would satisfy Him or excuse my lack of action. His Scriptures tell me that it what I am to do, and it really doesn’t matter what originally set me upon this accountability. So I know this is something within His will. His Word says it is. And I will heed it and do it.
So when you’re listening for God, and wanting to hear from Him, certainly keep all approaches open, so long as they are acceptable in Scripture. And once you get something you think might be God speaking to you, check what you’re hearing against the Word. If it conflicts, it’s not from God. If it lines up, it may very well be God showing you what He wants you to be doing in your life. Prayer, further research in the Scriptures, and counsel with other Christians you trust can help you determine if you are hearing correctly or not. But certainly never rely on your own experiences. If you think your experiences are showing you the way, verify them. Make sure Scripture lines up. Otherwise you could end up very far off from where you should really be.