The other day Tim asked, “How do I find time to listen to God?” It’s a great question. As our lives are full of family and friends and responsibilities, it is very challenging to hear the voice of God. Assuming, of course, that God is talking.
A couple years ago, when Hope was heading back to college, I gave her three pieces of advice. The first is a start to answering Tim.
1. Create some space for listening.
We need to be intentional about shutting up. We need to be intentional about being quiet. We need to be intentional about not filling every crack in our lives with data and information. We are addicted to novelty, and that’s why we are always checking our email. We are addicted to adrenaline and that’s why we can’t slow down. We are addicted to insecurity and that’s why we can’t stop doing. And the only way we will ever hear quiet voices is if the room can be silent. And our finger can operate the button.
And then AJ asked me, “So how do you do that?” And I told some stories.
1. When we drive through Chicago, I always listen to the traffic reports. When I listen to the traffic report, I get cranky in the car. Not because of the report. Because of how I think.
The traffic reporter says the names of roads. I have to picture the map we are taking. I have to find the name of the road on that map. I have to figure out where the blockage is. I have to concentrate.
If there is any noise, if anyone says anything, the map disappears. I can’t concentrate. I need to listen.
2. Last week, I went to Biblegateway.com and chapter by chapter copied the book of Romans into a blank document. I then deleted all of the headers, all of the chapters, all of the verse numbers. I made the font 14 point. I printed it. Now I have just the clear text of a letter Paul wrote to some people that he wanted to see. I read it yesterday. It was different than I remembered it, less like a theology outline and more like a letter. I could listen.
3. Often, when I sit in my office to write these posts while Nancy is in the family room watching TV, I turn on white noise. I’m a dialogue junkie. I automatically listen to the conversation from the other room.
4. Sometimes when I sit at my desk, I have to turn off the computer monitor, so I don’t keep looking to see if new messages have come.
5. On the other end of the building where I work, there are a couple of sofas. I often take drafts of what I’m working on and sit there. I work clearer.
So, how do you intentionally listen for God?