There is a joke going around that if a woman wants to keep a secret, she can tell it to her husband. He won’t be listening anyway. We have a problem in our interpersonal communication – we rarely listen to each other. Oh, we may hear the words, but often we hear what we want to hear while we are preparing our response. What we have, as stated in “Cool Hand Luke,” is a failure to communicate.
We have that failure in our relationship with God, too. Oh we pray. We tell God what we want, we tell God how we want it to happen, and we tell God when we want it to happen. Sometimes when I pray I think God must be like the character on the phone who keeps trying to get a word in edgewise when it’s obvious that the person on the other end isn’t going to let that happen. We pray like that, then, when we don’t hear from God, we go ahead with our plans believing that’s what God wants.
One of the things that I have been trying to learn is how to be quiet before God so that I can listen. It’s sometimes difficult in a world filled with so much background noise. Jesus reminded us how important it is to listen to Him. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27) There are two key thoughts here: first, we listen. We don’t just hear God speaking. We listen and understand. The second is that we follow. We don’t listen to God so that we can choose whether or not to do what He wants. We follow.
Listening takes time, and so I am trying to take time each day just to listen. I have no music in the background; the TV is turned off; I’m not distracted by anyone or anything else. I listen. No, I haven’t had God speak to me in an audible voice, but I believe that I am able to hear and understand what God wants more clearly. I don’t follow perfectly, but I am seeking to listen to and follow God more and more each day.
Lord God, speak to me in the quietness of this world when there are no distractions. Let Your still small voice guide me daily. At the same time, let me hear and see You working in the midst of the noise and the busy-ness of everyday life and not get distracted by the noise.