“Would you like to meet for lunch today?”
“Sure! What did you have in mind?”
Deciding to give three choices with three different types of food, I pecked, “Chili’s, McAlisters, or Kob Jai” and pressed send.
My friend texted back that she’d prefer Kob Jai because its atmosphere was quiet, enabling better conversation.
I hadn’t even thought about the atmosphere. Knowing I would be eating after a workout, I was all about the grub.
But my friend — her first thought was that we’d be able to hear one another clearly.
Two years ago, a sudden, painful, long-lasting ear infection necessitated I take a hearing test. Although the results weren’t terrible, I do hear worse than most my age. Conversation with a lot of background noise is a strain.
Sometimes I read lips; other times I try to fill-in-the-blank with words I can’t make out. But sometimes I miss important parts of conversation entirely, even if I’m physically present.
At times I feel like I’ve allowed a lot of background noise in my life. When the house is quiet, I rush to fill the silence with music, a podcast, Periscope, or anything else. Many times those sources of communication are good and helpful for me.
But where is the quiet? How can I ever hear the whisper of God if I’m constantly surrounding myself with background noise?
In his book The Listening Life, Adam S. McHugh conjectures one reason we don’t hear the voice of God like our predecessors did: “Perhaps our ancestors didn’t have the same luxury of distraction.”
Many of us want to hear God speak to us. But perhaps God is just waiting on us to quiet the background noise so we can hear Him.
In the quiet of the night when I lay my head on the pillow, I usually begin to pray. More often than not, I feel like I haven’t spoken with — or more importantly, listened to — God all day. I don’t want that kind of relationship with my Father. I don’t want to play catch-up at the day’s end when I’m too exhausted to pay attention.
If I’m ever going to have the “pray without ceasing” life, where my spiritual ears are ready to listen, I’m going to have to quiet some of the background noise I’ve let in my life.
It’s a slow process, but I’ve taken baby steps…
…sitting in my recliner in the dark of the morning, just a few moments, before opening up my devotional and Bible reading.
…choosing to forego the music or podcast or periscope while I put makeup on this morning.
…putting my kindle down and just looking at my children, in case one of them had something important to say to me (which he did)
…turning off my radio in the car for this one trip so I can reorient myself after constant noise in the past hour
I have many more steps to take, but this is a start. God doesn’t speak every time I quiet the noise, but that’s okay. At least I’m making quiet to hear His voice should it whisper.
What about you? What steps can you take to listen?