In the morning let me hear about your faithful love, because I’ve put my trust in you. Show me the way I should live, because I pray to you. (Psalm 143:8 NIrV)
On my morning walks, I usually encounter the same couple, at the same place, at the same time. The man is always wearing headphones. Not ear buds, but big, thick, cover-your-whole-ear headphones. Although they are together, it’s obvious he has tuned out his wife and everything else. He doesn’t hear birds chirping, leaves rustling, or cars approaching. He’s in his own zone and conversation with his wife, or anyone he meets, is non-existent.
When I passed the couple this morning, I realized I’m often like the headphone man. Even though I talk to the Lord every day, I don’t always listen. Frequently, my ears are plugged and my mind consumed with solving problems, pondering concerns, or planning the course of my day. Often, I spend a lot of time requesting and rehashing and very little time listening.
Listening requires a cessation of speech, a silencing of not only phonation, but also the tirade that often goes on mentally. How many times have we crafted and perfected, after an incident, what we wished we could have said on the spot? But what would happen if, instead, we turned off the mental speech-making and listened to what God has to say about the situation.
Perhaps during the holidays, more than any other time, we fail to hear God’s voice. Distractions abound, and at a time when our focus should be on our blessings and our Savior, we’re tuned in to other things that seem more pressing.
The Children of Israel were backwards-looking whiners. They spent a lot of time complaining about what they didn’t have and wishing for a return to their former existence. (Guess they forgot the abuse and oppression of slavery!) When Moses wanted to get their attention, the message was often preceded with “Hear, O Israel!” In other words, “Heads up, people. I’m about to tell you something important.” God often prefaces his message to us in a similar way. It may be through the words of a friend, family member, scripture, or an event. Or he may speak to us directly via the Holy Spirit. No matter the vehicle for the message, if we’re not paying attention, we miss important directions.
Tune in to the right voice
Spiritual lack of focus is a struggle for all of us. What happens in our physical life almost always overtakes our spiritual life, unless we make a conscious effort to integrate the two. The world yells for our attention while the spirit quietly prompts. The best way to tune in to God’s voice is to spend time in his word. Don’t use the excuse that you don’t have time because we make time for things we assign a priority. Make scripture ingestion and digestion as much of a priority for your spiritual life as food is for physical nourishment.
“When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, LORD God Almighty” (Jeremiah 15:16 NIV).
Be assured, God hears
Sometimes, it feels like God isn’t listening because he doesn’t answer in the timeframe we establish, but scripture assures us he hears, “And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for” (1 John 5:15 NLT). Remember, we are the ones with the hearing problem, not God. Today, tune out the noise of the world. Take off the headphones. Remove the ear buds. Stop talking. Open your heart, mind, and spirit and listen. Can you hear God’s voice?