According to Richard Hauser, a Jesuit priest, there are two ways of viewing God. And which way we view God impacts how we relate to him.
One view suggests that God is the Great Rewarder. We spend our lives trying to gain God’s acceptance by being good so we’ll win his approval and receive his blessings. We believe if we do everything right, we’ll be happy, and when we die, God will welcome us to heaven.
The problem with this belief is that when life is tough, we think we’ve lost God’s blessing. Then we either run from him (because we think he’s mad at us) or we try harder to be perfect to regain his love. We try to control God through our behavior. But God can’t be controlled, and because he made us in his Divine Image, we already have the Creator’s unconditional love.
The scriptural-based view sees God as our Divine Coach. Like a baseball coach, the Creator is beside us on the field of life. He’s in the players’ box, ready to instruct us, encourage us, and invite us to discover love and wholeness. He guides our steps with his wisdom. Our job is to listen to his coaching calls and follow his lead so we can discern (teach our hearts) how he’s inviting us to progress base-by-base toward wholeness.
God coaches us through the Spirit of Wisdom—the Holy Spirit he breathed into our hearts with the first breath we took.The Holy Spirit is like a flame that flickers behind our hearts. It’s the umbilical cord that connects us to the Divine while we’re on life’s playing field.
When we recognize God as our Divine Coach, we step up to the plate to co-create with him. We acknowledge we need him as our coach. We discover his deepest desire for us is to be happy.
A buddy calls these coaching instructions from God “holy nudges.” A nudge is a prod, a gentle poke that gets our attention. When we feel a nudge, we can either ignore it or try to figure out what it’s trying to communicate.
Holy nudges come in many ways.
Sometimes, there’s a word or a phrase that captures our attention. No matter what we are doing, that word or phrase continues to reappear.
Other times, nudges come through a heartfelt sense of being invited or drawn toward something good, like when we meet a special person and feel a powerful connection.
Holy nudges can arise from sitting with a wise mentor. By asking questions and noticing patterns, a spiritual mentor can help us recognize the movement of God in our lives.
We might experience nudges when we sit quietly and listen to God. Like a farmer creates fallow fields, quiet solitude creates an open space within our hearts so God can sprinkle seeds of love and wisdom that nourish and guide us.
The other day, I got a nudge to reach out to a buddy who was struggling with family issues. Although I resisted initially—afraid of breaking the “Man Code”—the nudge kept coming back. So, after listening to my heart, I asked my friend if he’d like to grab some coffee. He accepted. I listened and encouraged him. As he talked through the problem, he gained clarity about what he needed to do to resolve it. When we left the coffee shop, I smiled. My buddy and I had heard and followed God’s nudges, and my friend had found inner direction.
Take time to notice Holy Nudges in your life. Let your heart follow them. They’re the movement of God leading you toward wholeness and happiness.
—brian j plachta