As One Who Listens
Like many older people, my Dad spent his later years wearing a hearing device to amplify the voices around him. I’m sure he had a legitimate degree of hearing loss, but our family was often amused and sometimes irked by how Dad could miss something that was said clearly in front of him, yet pick up on a conversation going on in another room. Mom’s diagnosis was that Dad was just “hard of listening.”
I wonder if that is how God might view me! How many times has God spoken clearly to me and I’ve completely missed it? In John 10, Jesus asserted that the shepherd calls his sheep by name and they follow him because they know his voice. How’s that working out for you?
I’ve invested considerable time and money into a theological education, but I don’t recall ever having a formal class called “Listening to God 101.” However, in the school of the Spirit, this is the foundational lesson for anyone seeking to follow Jesus. There are steps we can take to help us learn to differentiate God’s voice from all the others bombarding us. We can read Scripture voraciously (like Jesus, and like early Friends did) to the point that it becomes a sieve through which we test every thought we receive. We can respond to gentle inner promptings to speak in worship or to hold our peace, and experience the smile of God affirming our obedience. Listening is something we learn to do, sometimes by trial and error.
Young Samuel heard God calling his name, and it confused him at first. Eventually, though, he heard from God again and responded, “Speak, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10). Can you say the same thing?
Query for Reflection
Am I expecting to hear from God during these next forty days? Do I already have an inkling of what I need to listen for?
For the next forty days keep a prayer journal where you track not only what you are asking of God, but also what you are hearing.
Lord, teach me how to sort out your voice from my own and the many others I hear day after day.