Over the past few years I have had several people ask me, “How do you know when God is giving you a sign?” Some have even asked, “How do you know when God is moving in your life?” These are difficult questions to answer. I cannot say to someone asking these questions, “When you know, you know,” albeit that is how I feel. 

To be honest, it has been rather easy to discern God’s will for my life as of late. I am not boasting or claiming to be any more spiritual than the next person. For all I know God could be making it so clear to me because I am actually less spiritual than the next person. I hope that is not the case. 

To begin to understand how God works or how God moves we must be able to watch God. How do we watch God? We must watch God with an uncanny eye. Proverbs 8:34 states:
“Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors.” 
Jesus instructs the disciples in Matthew to “watch and pray.” In his letter to the Colossians, Paul writes, “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” All of these passages refer to a sense of watching spiritually. Notice how they are attached to prayer. Prayer is at the beginning of building a relationship with God. Through prayer and building a strong relationship with God we are made ready to watch spiritually. 1 Thessalonians 5:6 states: 
“Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” 
In order to recognize the way God is working/moving in our lives we must be awake and alert and we must not get caught sleeping or get caught unprepared. The easiest way to ensure this is by removing distractions. We, as Christians in America, live very busy lives. We work, we go to school, we raise children, and we pursue our dreams. Outside of Sunday and Wednesday we leave very little time for God. When we pray for God to show us a sign or for help directing our lives we look for the answer in the midst of our cluttered lives. 

Why is this so? My suspicion is that one reason we do this is because we expect the answer to come immediately. Let’s be honest for a second. We do treat God like a spiritual ATM. That’s how our society works. We live in a fast paced world where demands and needs are quickly met. We have lost the ability to wait, especially when it comes to waiting on God. 

Being unable to wait is a sign of being caught asleep spiritually. Impatience often comes from a lack of faith. I heard a preacher not too long ago touch on the subject of impatience. Think, for a second, of the consequences of being impatient. His example was Esau. He sold his birthright to Jacob because he was impatient. He exaggerated his situation to justify the decision he made. He said he was “about to die” so that his birthright was useless to him. Was a bowl of stew worth his birthright? Absolutely not! If we do not learn how to wait on God we will end up with our own bowl of stew. 

Waiting does not imply doing nothing. Sue Monk Kidd, author of The Secret Life of Bees, tells a story that reflects our often mistaken viewpoint on waiting. During a retreat at a monastery, in her restless state, she notices a monk: 
 "[He was] sitting perfectly still beneath a tree. There was such reverence in his silhouette, such tranquil sturdiness, that I paused to watch. He was the picture of waiting. 
 "Later I sought him out. ‘I saw you today sitting beneath the tree—just sitting there so still. How is it that you can wait so patiently in the moment? I can't seem to get used to the idea of doing nothing.' 
"He broke into a wonderful grin. 'Well, there's the problem right there, young lady. You've bought into the cultural myth that when you're waiting you're doing nothing.' 
"Then he took his hands and placed them on my shoulders, peered straight into my eyes and said, 'I hope you'll hear what I'm about to tell you. I hope you'll hear it all the way down to your toes. When you're waiting, you're not doing nothing. You're doing the most important something there is. You're allowing your soul to grow up. If you can't be still and wait, you can't become what God created you to be.'” 
The ability to be still is an important skill to acquire. Take for example a frog. A frog sits still, waiting for its prey and watching. A frog knows exactly how its prey moves. If a frog's prey is not moving the frog does not react. In fact, 100 flies could be directly in front of a frog, but if they do not move the frog does not notice that breakfast, lunch, and dinner is right there in plain sight. 

What if our spiritual vision was similar? What if we built our relationship with God to the point where we could watch Him? What if we were able to be still and only focus on the movements of God? It would be so much easier to walk down the path God has created for us. 

Through prayer we build our relationship with God and begin to train our spiritual eyes. We then must learn to be still in our daily lives so that we give ourselves the opportunity to focus on God. Finally, we must wait patiently and watch closely for God to move. 
 "But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me." - Micah 7:7

Malcolm X would have been 88 years old yesterday.
The past few years his name has been in quite a few headlines. From the recent passing of his grandson to the controversial book authored by Manning Mannable, history cannot forget Malcolm X. And it should not.

Many people have tried to define the legacy of Malcolm X. I am not up to that task. I simply wish to define what X has meant to me.

The characteristics that made Dr. King one of my favorite figures in history are the same characteristics that drew me to Malcolm X. What was at the forefront of his movement was the understanding that the world, as it was, was not the world intended by God. Also, he understood that only through God could we begin to transform ourselves and eventually the world.
Studying Malcolm X led to me gaining an understanding and an appreciation for my culture and heritage. For many others Malcolm X defined what it meant to be a Black man. X was also incredibly disciplined. This was actually a key aspect of the Black Muslim movement. Members of the Nation of Islam were polite, wore suits, abstained from drugs and alcohol, did not swear, broke no laws, worked hard, and were encouraged to marry and have children. All of these values were taught to me by my father and leaders in my church which made it easy to identify with X.

Had he not been assassinated the world would probably be an entirely different place. However, I do not like to deal in “what if’s.” It is best to reflect on the life of such a great person so that we can grow individually.

I reflect on the life of Malcolm X and seek to become as selfless as he was. Malcolm never sought to build himself up, rather in the words of Earl Hutchinson, “the quest for justice and true equality, and the restoration of pride in the history and heritage of African-Americans was the ultimate reward for him.”

Malcolm X died in the struggle to create a better world. Jesus is quoted in John 15:13 as saying, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” This is the mark of a true disciple: to love others with the same love that God displayed. Ultimate sacrifice through selflessness is the sign of an individual that understands an important part of the message of the gospel.

Malcolm X will continue to make headlines for years to come. History cannot forget Malcolm X because history cannot afford to forget Malcolm X. Not when his words still ring true: 
“And in my opinion the young generation of whites, blacks, browns, whatever else there is, you’re living at a time of extremism, a time of revolution, a time when there’s got to be a change. People in power have misused it, and now there has to be change and a better world has to be built, and the only way it’s going to be built is with extreme methods. I for one will join in with anyone, I don’t care what color you are, as long as you want to change this miserable condition that exists on this earth.”
"Faith seeks understanding. I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand." - Anselm of Canterbury

 Anselm of Canterbury was a Benedictine monk born in the 11th century. According to Anselm, faith precedes reason. Through reason we are unable to find God. But through first having faith in God, God will reveal himself unto us. The authors of this blog have already taken the preliminary step of faith. We wish to use this space to log our reflections on Christianity, spirituality, and on life as we experience it as young Black Christians in 21st century America.

We hope that this blog can be a place that inspires, illuminates, and sparks productive dialogue. We hope that our journey towards understanding will lead others to embark on a similar path or be helpful to those already on one. Please comment freely and be sure to return.

-The Ghetto Monk
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