Wednesday, July 13, 2011

True When Whispered: Hearing God's Voice in a Noisy World

by Paul L. Escamilla
Nashville, Abingdon Press, 2010
132 Pages     Spiritual

One batch of grandchildren were laughing and splashing in the pool, and another batch were playing a noisy game of “Kings in the Corner” at the picnic table. I was at another picnic table trying to help the Saudi graduate student who lives in our basement apartment with his English homework. He saw True When Whispered by Paul L. Escamilla sitting on the table. “What this?” Aziz asked in his best English (which, believe me, is his best English after two weeks in the US). I replied, “I am reading this book,” in my plainest English (which, believe me, was getting plainer with each passing moment). Aziz gazed at the cover trying to decipher this new code. “What whisper?” he asked next. I whispered the title. He asked again, “What whisper?” Once more I whispered the words. Finally, he got out his trusty Arabic translation device on his I-Phone and punched in the word whisper. “Ah,” he said with a smile on his face. “Whisper” he whispered.

Paul Escamilla is a poet in the guise of a pastor and theologian. I had read Longing for Enough in a Culture of More earlier this year and was pleased when the author sent me his newest book to read also.  True When Whispered lived up to my expectation. It is a beautifully written, profoundly meaningful look at the mysterious relationship between God and Man.

Escamilla utilizes a quote from Soren Kierkegaard for his title and the theme of the book: “Some things are true when whispered, but not when shouted.” Escamilla acknowledges: “In a noisy world, we stand to lose the one thing most essential for clear thinking; that is, the simple ability to hear ourselves thinking.” He develops this theme in three sections and several short chapters—The Practice of Prayer, Habits of the Heart, and Whispering in the World.

I particularly appreciated the section on Prayer. Escamilla had some beautiful thoughts on the presence of the Holy Spirit in us as God sighs through us, causing us to come to an “understanding that we are understood.” I have often wished that I were more contemplative, more of a listener to the whispers of God in my life. I appreciated very much Escamilla’s encouraging voice that God is sighing within me, whispering even when I think I am not listening.

Here are some of the things that I particularly like about True When Whispered and Escamilla’s writing:
&;·         It is beautifully written and very literary and poetic. It fills your mind with beautiful passages to relish, savor and memorize. I copied down this prayer which I found particularly meaningful. “May every step I take today, including this very prayer, be its own small leap of faith.”
&;·         It is filled with amazing illustrations. One was particularly graphic. He tells about Frank Lloyd Wright’s house, Falling Waters, which was built right over a waterfall. Wright used a cantilever to support the house. Escamilla speaks of the daring in which Wright stepped out into the unknown when he created that house and equates it with the stepping out in faith that we do when we listen and follow the whispers of God. Every time we step out in faith, we are stepping into the cantilevered arms of God.
&;·       It has great humor. He speaks of the concept of following our passions and how fickle we are as we trend from passion to passion. I laughed when he wrote: “Meetings of the ‘My-Heart-Is-No-Longer-In-It’ support group are helpful for those who participate, but attendance tends to be spotty.”

Similar in style to Longing for Enough in a Culture of More, True When Whispered is intended for a small group study. There is a study guide at the end of the book. I think that Escamilla’s books will engender great discussion, thoughtful reading, and intimate sharing. I underlined many ideas, phrases, and meaningful thoughts. As I listened for God’s whispers among the words, I longed to share those whispers with others who had read those same words.  

Here is a review from another pastor:

Here is my review for Longing for Enough in a Culture of More by Escamilla:

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