by Mark Batterson
In your book, Whisper, you speak about the Whispering Spot in the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. For those who do not know what this is, would you explain it briefly?
Mark: During a tour of the Capitol more than two decades ago, our guide showed a very unique place known as the whispering spot. He stood on one side of Statuary Hall while our tour group stood on the other side. Then he spoke in a whisper, and we could mysteriously and miraculously hear the echo of his voice all the way across the room as if he were mere inches away. A few tall tales have been told over the years, such as the story of John Quincy Adams pretending to be asleep at his desk while eaves-dropping on political opponents. Those stories can’t be corroborated, but the physics can. The circular walls and domed ceiling of Statuary Hall allow whispering waves to travel the circumference of the room in unusual ways.
You liken listening to God’s voice to finding that “Whispering Spot” in our own lives. Would you list a few ways we can create our own “Whispering Spots?”
Mark: God can show up anywhere, anytime. So let’s not limit God to a “spot.” That said, there are places where I seem to hear God more clearly, more consistently. I’ve had a few whispering spots over the years, but my current spot is the rooftop of Ebenezers, our coffeehouse on Capitol Hill. Ebenezers was once a whisper. Twenty years ago I was walking by a rundown, dilapidated building and I heard that still small voice: this crackhouse would make a great coffeehouse. Ebenezers has served a million customers and given a million dollars to kingdom profits, but it was once a whisper. To me, Ebenezers is a whispering spot that happens to serve coffee! So I go up on the rooftop when I really want to hear God’s voice. I get good reception up there!
Mark Batterson shares how you can find God’s whisper in the midst of your busy life.
You describe, in your book, several ways in which God communicates with us. Share a few and briefly explain how, in our busy lives, we might miss them if we aren’t paying attention.
Mark: God speaks through seven languages. The first language is Scripture, and it’s in a category by itself. When you open the Bible, God opens His mouth. By definition, a whisper is “speaking with one’s breath rather than one’s vocal chords.” Juxtapose that with II Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is God-breathed.” The Bible is God’s whisper! That said, there are six secondary languages that God uses in Scripture—desires, dreams, doors, people, promptings, and pain. Like any language, it takes time and effort to acquire these languages. It also takes relationship, and that’s what God wants!
You make a comment: “Don’t be surprised if God slows you down or gets in the way.” Let’s talk a moment about why God might show up in our lives like this.
Mark: God wants you to get where God wants you to go more than you want to get where God wants you to go, and He’s awfully good at getting us there! But in my experience, He doesn’t just show the way. Sometimes He gets in the way, like he did with Balaam’s donkey. God loves you too much to let you walk a path that is destructive. Let me put this in the context. One of my most prayed promises is Revelation 3:7-8 which says, “What He opens no one can shut and what he shuts no one can open. See I have placed before you an open door.” We love open doors! Closed doors? Not so much! But this is a package deal. And someday, I think we’ll thank God for the closed doors as much as the open doors!
We all have dreams—things we’d like to accomplish in our lives. We know God sometimes places these dreams within us. You state that “who you become in the process of fulfilling your dream is the primary goal”—not the actual fulfilling of the dream itself. What do you mean by this?
Mark: What we think of as the process—pursuing a dream—is really God’s goal. God is far more concerned with who you are than what you do! So dreams are really a mechanism of spiritual growth. Show me the size of your dream and I’ll show you the size of your God. We need dreams that are destined to fail without divine intervention. That’s how we learn to experience faith. That’s how we learn to hit our knees and live in raw dependence upon God. At the end of the day, accomplishing a dream isn’t the primary goal. The primary goal is who you become in the process!
In Whisper, you encourage your readers to “be like Jesus” in the sense that He saw potential in unlikely places and in unlikely people. That seems a tall order. What are some practical ways we can begin to accomplish this?\
Mark: Jesus was able to see past people’s problem and spot their potential. So when we look with God’s eyes, with God’s heart that’s what we should see. We don’t ignore the problems because that’s isn’t doing anybody any favors, but we speak words of encouragement as God leads us. In the language of people, I outline the Johari window. The third quadrant is called the blind spot quadrant. It consists of what you can’t see about yourself, but others can see about you. This is where we need people who have permission to speak the truth in love. This is where we need people to point out problems we aren’t aware of. This is where we need people who believe in us more than we believe in ourselves because they see our God-given potential. That’s precisely what Jesus did. All the Pharisees saw was present-tense problems. Jesus saw future-tense potential. We should follow suit.
Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC – one church with eight locations. NCC also owns and operates the largest coffeehouse on Capitol Hill. Mark holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from Regent University and is the New York Times bestselling author of 11 books, including The Circle Maker, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, Wild Goose Chase and has recently released Whisper and Play the Man.