|Posted on March 8, 2018 at 6:40 AM|
Photo by Joshua Earle from Freely Images.
I’ve updated and revised this post from 2015. It appeared initially on Totally Fit 4 Life’s website. Since this is my own work, I can reuse it as I wish.
Focus passage: Isaiah 55
Focus verse: Isaiah 55:3
Stop and listen to the sounds around you. What do you hear? While you wait in line at the store or at the stop light, do you sneak a peak at your cell phone or iPad to see what's happening "out there"? Do you silently wonder how in the world you are supposed to spend time with God when the kids are screaming and your house looks like a cyclone hit it right after you cleaned? I have to admit I fall prey to these distractions and struggle to get past the noise pollution around me. Right now, my radio is playing Christian music while to write this. I can hear the air cleaners hum and the refrigerator compressor shut on and off. It seems we are conditioned to something going on in the background all the time. Silence isn't really very silent, is it?
Closely linked to Simplicity is Solitude. It is interesting how many senior Christians have re-discovered solitude when they are at home alone with social contact being a treat, or at least a task on their to-do list. Their children are grown up and having families of their own. Work demands have given way to retirement. Even those who babysit for their children are amazed at the beauty of silence when the grand kids go home. Prayer and Bible study time increases. Some are silver-locked spiritual warriors who are called by God to be intercessors for others, spending literally hours in prayer. The winter season of life affords them the time and quiet the rest of us wish we had.
Just as in a room full of people it is difficult to hear a person speaking to you, God's voice gets lost in the noise and distractions of our day. When my children were small, I found myself awake at 2 am with something from God running through my mind. Why then? He had my full attention. He doesn't pull the earbuds out of our ears to get our attention. Instead, a gnawing, a longing for something more taps us for our attention. We become dissatisfied with what is. Certainly there is something more. God has a grand adventure that begins by spending time alone with Him. Many times we pray only for our prayers to stop at the ceiling, simply because we don't listen as we pray.
I remember several years ago while washing dishes, I was very frustrated that our house had been on the market for two years. We lost a lot of money and were concerned about our family's future. My husband and I prayed over and over for our house to sell. That particular day, as I stood there at the sink washing dishes, God said," Three years. I will take care of you." Almost three years to the day of our move from that house, it sold. God had my attention during a quiet moment. So why didn't I hear Him earlier? I don't know, really, except our house was full of sounds like three boisterous kids, neighbors mowing their lawn, and on and on. Normal family stuff. Maybe I heard His quiet voice was because my attention wasn't in demand elsewhere. The only way we can hear from God is to quiet our hearts and minds so that we might hear His part of the conversation. That is what prayer is, isn’t it?
Here are some ways you can make yourself available to hear God speak back to you:
1. Keep your schedule simple (described in the Spiritual Discipline: Simplicity).
2. Turn off the radio, smartphones, television, etc. Christian music has a place, but it can even distract us from hearing God.
3. Set a no tech time each day-- internet, social media, silence your cell phone. Use this time to reflect on God, a situation, the day, blessings, a Scripture passage that stood out to you recently.
4. Just as in Lectio Divina, spend time in reflective prayer and Bible study. Write down any impressions or things you hear from God in your spirit. Talk to God about these impressions and continue listening. Your answer might come at that time or later.
5. Early morning or late at night, when everyone is either gone or in bed, give your to-do list to God. Pray over your family, work, school, anything that comes to mind. He may change your list's priorities.
Just as our spouses gets frustrated when we don't listen, God must get frustrated too. He is definitely more patient with us, though. Just as we can spend time together with our spouses being in the same room, yet not really speaking, being content to be together, we can do that with God too. It is absolutely essential for a vital relationship with God.
Some passages for reflection:
The worship song, "Come Just As You Are" gets to the heart of the wonderous relationship with God we truly long for.
May the Lord richly bless you with His presence as you hear His still small voice speak to you!
Celebration of Discipline, Revised Edition by Richard J. Foster. Pp. 96-109. Copyright 1988 by Richard J. Foster. Harper Publishing Company, San Francisco. p.p. 79-95.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®