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 a cyclone hit your home right after you cleaned it? 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 believe we are conditioned to something going on in the background all the time. Silence isn't really very silent.
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. The 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 increases. Some are spiritual warriors who are called by God to be intercessors for others, spending literally hours in prayer. They have the time and quiet the rest of us need.
Just as in a room full of people it is difficult to hear a person speaking to you, God's voice is lost in the noise and distractions of our day. When my children were small, I found my self 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, longing for something more comes along. We become dissatisfied with what is. Certainly there is something more. God has a grand adventure that starts 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 afterward. I remember several years ago while washing dishes, I was very frustrated that our house had been on the market for 2 years. We lost a lot of money and were concerned about our family's future. We prayed over and over. That day, God said," 3 years. I will take care of you." Almost 3 years to the day of our move from the house, it sold. He got my attention during a quiet moment. So why didn't I hear Him earlier? I don't know, really. Probably because it was quiet and my attention wasn't demanded elsewhere. The only way we can hear from God is to quiet our hearts and minds so that we might hear His portion of the conversation.
Here are some things you can do to hear God speak back to you:
1. Turn off the t.v. Cut the cable!
2. Turn off the radio, iPods, 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". Talk to God about these things 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 spouse 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 essential! Here are some passages for reflection:
1 Samuel 3:1-14
May the Lord richly bless you with His presence!