From the desk of Rev. Michael L. Strickland, Transitional Pastor:
Listening for God
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27
Between the pets, my attempts at playing guitar, and the presence of my pregnant wife and our three-year-old, there are a lot of sounds you will hear around our home. But the one sound that is only rarely heard is silence.
And that is too bad, because genuine silence is important for all of us. Silence allows us to listen. When there is silence, it is easier to discern our bodies’ needs. It is easier to collect our thoughts. It is easier to focus our intentions. And it is easier to listen for God’s leading.
We live hectic lives filled with activity after activity, and responsibility after responsibility. Studies repeatedly show how sleep-deprived we are, as well as how poorly we eat and take care of our bodies. For many years, our world has valued us based on our contributions, often caluculated in the number of sheer hours committed to the fulfillment of our responsibilities: a good worker is one who is willing to work lots of overtime, skip lunches, has no personal life, etc.
Around my home, whenever silence settles in there is an ominous feel about it. My wife and I look at each other and immediately go searching for our daughter. What has she gotten into? What has she done? Is she OK? We have countless “worst-case scenarios” running through our minds that range from being knocked unconscious to doing an art project with fecal matter. We expect the worst out of silence. Silence can only mean bad news.
I wonder if somehow, somewhere along the way, we have all learned that silence is bad news. And so we fill our days with noise: activities, music, television, games, the internet, talking on the phone, working overtime, and so on. The only time we experience silence is those fleeting moments after we lie down and before we fall asleep.
The same goes for our experiences of God. Our worship service is filled with our sounds and voices. What would you think if a friend called you, they said what they wanted to say, and then promptly hung up? But that is what we do to God in our prayers: we petition God for what we want and then hang up before God has a chance to get a word in.
I think a little silence would go a long way in our lives and world. It would give us the chance to listen to our bodies, to know when and what their needs are. It would give us a chance to listen to ourselves, to determine what is important to us and how we feel about our lifes. And it would give us a chance to listen to God, who actively and lovingly seeks to guide us.
God is as interested in guiding us in the mundane, everyday elements of our lives as He is in directing us toward participation in His mission. We just have to listen to hear. As we read in the Bible, sometimes God speaks in a “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12). It just takes a little silence now and then to hear sometimes.
Loving God, be with us in our work, worship and play.
Help us to find strength when we are weak.
When the way seems unbearable,
bless us to know that you will give us peace
in the midst of our storms.
For sermons and more ramblings from Pastor Michael, see his blog: Rogue Raconteur.