A while back I found an interesting packet stuffed back in a drawer. It was an old and frayed manila envelope that was showing the years of its use. The absence of marking or labels peeked my curiosity. Could it be old cards or notes of encouragement, I thought. Perhaps it was past photos to remind me of earlier years, or a wad of cash I misplaced. What was this mysterious treasure? I sat down and opened it slowly. I don’t know why, I just felt the drama of it all. To my surprise and a little let down, what I pulled out of that tattered envelope was report cards from my elementary years.
I first thought, Oh this will be fun, I kind of liked those years, and I had a moment going down memory lane. I was lurched back as I saw comments teachers wrote about me. I wondered; what did my teacher think of me? They must have like me, I thought to myself, I was kind of charming, and a fun kid, or at least I thought I was. Yet, as I started to read these windows into my past, comments popped out, “Mike has trouble listening.” “Mike can’t sit still to save his life” “Mike is just too much!” I checked the name just to make sure it was mine. Funny now that I do think about it, I remember a few teachers getting kind of upset with me after I had the whole class laughing from one of my funny stories or goofy behavior. I thought it a good thing because everyone was just way to quiet and they all, including the teacher, seemed not to be having all that much fun so I wanted to lighten the mood. Maybe that is why that year I kept being sent out to run special errands, important business for the teacher! Humm…
Anyway, it’s true I had a tough time listening. There was so much going on in my head, and being a bit hyper, I don’t think it was intentional that I wasn’t even interested in listening. I do know I exasperated teachers and my parents. I wish I would have learned the art of listening sooner; I could have avoided some mistakes and hardship. Like the time I did not hear my dad tell me not to mess with the car in the drive way and I got in and pretending to drive released the parking break and put it in neutral and ‘drove’ the car down the street. I think I mowed over a few small trees and took out a fence…not sure what happened to the car?
Listening is vital for life, and essential for living life God’s way, and discovering God’s unique call on our life. But how do we listen to God? Now we could talk a lot about how God speaks, but let me focus in on a few Biblical thoughts as you seek to listen to God. First, though God can, has and may speak audibly right out of the sky, He tends to speak to us through His Word, the Bible.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
That’s why listening (reading with the intent to understand the Bible) is crucial to our spiritual growth.
Now sure God can put a thought in our head or speak to us like a voice out of the sky (that has never happened to me, but that doesn’t mean it can’t, remember God can do anything!), but when that thought comes, we are to…
2 Corinthians 10:5 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
We are to hold them captive (in other words don’t act on them yet) until we check them out to see if they are in line with Jesus’ teachings and God’s way of life. If they don’t measure up, chuck them out. As well, we are to…
1 John 4:1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
To again examine thoughts and what others say is a ‘word from the Lord’ and see if it measures up. This is all part of listening.
Listening is an art and takes practice. As you have learned (maybe earlier than I did) listening takes focus, and concentration. I know for me I hear God more when it’s quiet. That’s why I do my devotional time in the morning, and why I take a day away to pray to concentrate on what God may say to me. So let me encourage you to continue to practice listening to God. He has a lot of wonderful things to say to you.
Seeking to Listen with you,