God Calls Us to Listen

This season of my life seems to be about listening.  I know God is trying to speak to me but sometimes it’s like watching television with the mute button pushed. I can almost see His mouth moving but there is no sound.  I wish I could read lips.

I can remember lines from old movies where one character is trying to make a strong point to another character and emphasizes his point with the phrase, “read my lips.” There have been times where I’ve been tempted to use this line with my children when they are reluctant to accept my answer to a request and they keep trying to get me to change my mind.  It’s probably not the best parenting tool but it might be effective.

So why is it that, in this season and at perhaps a time when I am trying harder to listen than ever before to hear God’s direction, that I seem to be deaf? Is there a barrier between us? Something I’ve put there because, like my children, I’ve heard His response to me and I’m waiting for a different one?  One I like better?

Or is it that I’m really trying to listen and there are no barriers between us…just so much noise in my life that I can’t hear the still small voice of my Father.  Either way, the issue is not that God isn’t speaking. The issue is within me.  There are hundreds of verses of Scripture that tell us to listen. But listening requires something of us. It requires that we be quiet, that we be still before the Lord.

My excuses as to why I can’t seem to be quiet before the Lord are actually pretty lame.  It’s really very simple. It’s about considering to what degree I’m willing to sacrifice in order to hear God. I must put aside my own selfish desires and just stop. Stop and wait. Stop and listen. Be still.

To what degree am I willing to alter my plans, my thoughts, and my busyness in order to hear God? Is there ANYTHING worth more than hearing the voice of my Lord? How much to I really desire to know God?

Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call to Me and I will answer you and I will tell you great and might things, which you do not know.”

It’s important that we call out to God, but if we expect to hear great and mighty things, we have to listen.

Melody and Harmony

I read a blog recently by a Christian musician. He was talking about the challenges of serving God in a music-based ministry. He said that sometimes he felt like he was always playing harmony and never melody. This made me think about how life goes sometimes. We think we’ve heard God’s call and we’re trying to be obedient but sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we can’t seem to see how what we’re doing is making a difference. It’s like we are playing the harmony and can’t identify the song.

When I was in middle school the band director tried to teach me to play the bassoon. Aside from the fact that it was a huge instrument for a thirteen year old to lug home for five blocks every weekend, it also required great effort to play. And it wasn’t exactly a solo instrument. Most of the music was the harmony and rather boring to practice. I only played the bassoon for one year. I just didn’t get much satisfaction from the experience.

But as I read the musician’s blog I saw things from a different perspective. When a composer writes a piece of music each part is important. While the melody is meant to stand out, it isn’t meant to stand alone. The richness of a piece of music is in the way each part is combined together. It reminds me of the verses in 1 Corinthians 12 about the body and how each part needs the other.

But back to the music for a moment. In life we can’t all play solos. We aren’t all created to play the melody. But our parts are just as important. A pastor, for instance, may play a solo on Sunday but even he doesn’t always get to play the melody. The beauty is in the way the melody and the harmony flow together. It’s the countless hours that faithful Christ-followers put in just doing their part…just playing the harmony to the best of their ability… that’s what makes the difference.

We may not even be aware, on a conscious level, of the harmony that is being played but if it our part is missing we’d know it. If the musicians suddenly just quit because they were tired of playing the same boring tune the entire piece would suffer.

When we grow weary of playing the same notes, when we can’t even recognize the tune, that’s when we must determine to remain faithful. Our part is important; our harmony is what makes the melody rich. Maybe we are just asked to play the bassoon to the best of our ability. We can be sure that the song the Lord hears is pleasing to Him even if we can’t recognize the tune from where we sit.

Psalm 33:3 “Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully with a shout of joy”

What do you want?

Jesus asked His followers, “What do you want?” (Matthew 20:32)

What do I want? Desires…deepest desires…what are mine? What is it that I truly desire in the deepest places in my heart?  For a long time I’ve felt this vague sort of longing. I used to think it was just that I was dissatisfied with life. Maybe ungrateful for what God has done for me. It made me feel sort of guilty, like I should learn to be more content and satisfied with the life God has given me.  Instead I’m always longing for something more, asking the question, “is this all there is?” Wondering why I can never just be thankful for life as it is. After all, it could be so much worse…right?

In the past few months, God has been hinting at a completely different mindset.  Perhaps this longing I have is not selfish or from the perspective of a spoiled child that is never satisfied. Maybe this is a holy yearning for something that can never be satisfied in this life. It’s a longing, a deep desire for the restoration that Jesus promised when He returns for us.

I’ve been feeling like I need to grow up and stop “wanting.” To spend my time serving and living the best I can, as if this life is all there is. But I’ve been wrong. I need to have a measure of contentment as Paul mentions (Phillipians 4:11). But honestly…this life matters little in comparison to eternity. I will never feel fulfilled here – I don’t belong here. We haven’t belonged here since Eve made that one decision that ripped us from paradise to wander in the wilderness for generation after generation.  Everybody has this same longing, I believe.  We all search for different ways to find some relief, to feel satisfied…some good, some not so good.  The truth is, there is no long term relief…not until He comes for us.

The revelation for me is this: This longing isn’t evil. It isn’t something to feel bad about. Better to stop trying to meet this this need or numb it. Better to recognize it for what it is and embrace it…waiting for the day of the promise!

One day Jesus will fill every void I feel. One day I will finally feel complete and fulfilled when I am restored to the person God created me to be from the beginning. Until then, my comfort comes as I reach for Him and draw as close as I can.  I will choose to sit in His presence and wait…I won’t be disappointed!