15 Feb Listening
As January 1 approached, some friends began to inquire about what my word of the year was going to be and to be honest I wasn’t sure. Last year my word was discipline, and there were so many praises to be thankful for!
Heading into the new year I seemed to be a little distracted, as my word did not come as obviously this go around. A good friend of mine constantly reminds me to pay attention—a good lesson in life—but especially helpful when trying to hear from God.
As I focused and paid attention, it was clear the Lord was leading me towards the word “listen.”
My friend and I spent some time last year praying over how to be more active listeners to our friends and family, and this was incredibly humbling and enlightening for me as I realized how often I was not listening well enough to be able to love and serve. As I reflected on this time, it was definitely more focused on how to be a better listener to the people around me, and while that is important, I noticed that the same gap existed in my relationship with the Lord.
“I was listening to all good things, but in all that searching for His voice, I forgot to listen to just Him.”
It made me think of the story in 1 Samuel when the Lord called Samuel. Samuel heard the Lord in the night and kept running to Eli thinking it was him. Samuel did not know the Lord’s voice because he did not know the Lord yet, and in his ignorance would run to Eli. I find that sometimes I do not know the Lord’s voice, and for me it’s because there are too many other things vying for my ears. I probably spend countless hours listening to praise music, sermons, podcasts, my community of people, and reading Scripture. But what I failed to do recently is turn it all off. I was listening to all good things, but in all that searching for His voice, I forgot to listen to just Him.
When Eli realizes who it is speaking, he tells Samuel to return and this time reply with, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening” (3:9). This is the posture I should be taking when I’m asking to hear from the Lord.
I reflected back on a time when I felt like I really heard from the Lord. I was in a relationship that I definitely thought was moving towards marriage, and when I began to feel uncertain, instead of running to all my usual places for answers, I went directly to the Lord. I took some much needed quiet time. Not your typical, everyday quiet time—I mean silence.
I asked for clarity and answers, and the Lord answered in big ways. Putting myself into a position of being able to listen not only allowed me to hear Him, but it provided me with the confidence I needed to obey and the truth I needed to walk with hope in the future. It was an undeniable peace that could have only come from the Lord.
I wish I had that everyday, all the time, in every decision I make.
“Putting myself into a position of being able to listen not only allowed me to hear Him, but it provided me with the confidence I needed to obey and the truth I needed to walk with hope in the future.”
As this new year begins, I can already feel how important this word will be, not only with my relationship with the Lord but also with others. This process will take patience. It will take time. It will take intentionality. But I know it will be worth it because I truly believe that listening to the Lord creates opportunity for obedience.
And while it’s not always easy, I can walk with a clarity that is strong. When I am clear on what the Lord is asking of me, I can walk in obedience with wisdom, peace, and hope. I am not discounting all the other ways in which the Lord is able to speak and move, but it has become increasingly clear that the intentional focus of listening to Him through silencing all other noises will be vital in my walk.
I want to be able to say, “Here I am, Lord. Your servant is listening,” and for it not to be an empty offer but to truly be listening.
“When I am clear on what the Lord is asking of me, I can walk in obedience with wisdom, peace, and hope.”
Currently five minutes of silence feels like a long time, but I’m hoping by the end of the year I can say I spent countless hours listening to the Lord.
How have you heard from God in the past? What can you be doing in everyday life to create opportunity to listen to Him? What does listening look like in this season? Where can you grow here?