Being a “good listener” is not how I would describe myself. If I had to describe myself it would be more along the lines of “good talker.” Listening isn’t something that comes easily or naturally to me. On the other hand, my husband is a great listener – it is part of what makes him so perfect for me. I love to talk; he loves to listen. At first this appeared to be a perfect pairing but as time went on we realized that it wasn’t sustainable; I needed to learn how to listen and he needed to learn how to talk. Without growing and maturing ourselves our relationship may not have fared well.
Listening is such a simple concept, and yet I cannot overstate its importance. Listening is a skill we all need to grow and develop. Listening goes hand in hand with communication, both of which are vital to any lasting relationship. Think about it. How satisfied would you be if you were in a relationship and the other party never stopped talking and never listened to you? You may not feel like you’re actually in a relationship, or at least not actively taking part in one.
I want to be a good listener, even if my personality isn’t inclined towards being one. However, there is one thing that consistently seems to get in my way: time. There never seems to be enough time in a day, in a week, in a month, or in a year. Often I’ll ask myself, “where has the time gone?” I can recall a time in my life when it felt like all I had was time, and boredom was always lurking around the corner, but I can no longer remember what being bored feels like. Now all I feel is rushed.
Rushed to take care of my home, the dog, the car; rushed to take care of my toddler, keep her fed, clean, entertained, mentally stimulated; rushed to keep everything clean; rushed to get meals and snacks prepared and ready, I try to cook from scratch and not use pre-packaged goods but I’ll be perfectly honest – there’s not always time; rushed to get all my errands done in between nap times; rushed to get my work done; rushed, rushed, rushed. Excersie? I don’t have time for it. A night out? It is a rarity. Vacation? I have no idea when the next one will be, probably when my daughter is older.
What about prayer? I say lots of little prayers throughout the day. God is never too far from my mind. I thank Him when I miss all the red lights, and when everything seems to fall in place. I call out to him when I am hurting, when I am in pain, or when a loved one is sick. When I hear a siren I pray that He protects the people involved. I pray amidst all the noise of my life and the chaos of the world. But I don’t always make time for God, and just Him. I speak a lot, but how often do I really listen?
Our world is busy, it is rushed, and it is noisy. Somewhere, we need to find the time to be still. Time to let all the “rush” fall away. Time to stand before our Lord and listen to Him. I was told once, a long time ago, that if I felt far from God it wasn’t God who had moved away. He is steady, He is faithful, He is constant; the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. God waits on us to draw close to Him, He wants us to lay our burdens (our “rush”) on Him; He wants to renew our spirit. It is time to slow down and remember the relationship we have with our heavenly Father.
In 1 Kings chapter 19 we read about the prophet Elijah who was running for His life, all the other prophets had been slain, and he felt alone. God tells Elijah to stand on a mount “for the Lord is about to pass by.” Elijah experiences three forces, a great wind, an earthquake, and a fire. Yet, despite their great power, God was not in any of these forces. After the fire comes a voice, a still small voice (a better translation could be “sheer silence”). God was in the silence, that is how He revealed himself to Elijah. Silence is a powerful thing, it is when we are still and quiet that we can hear the voice of God. We need to start listening, and the first step towards listening is cutting out all of the noise, and laying down our “rush.” As important as it is for us to speak to God, it is equally important that we learn to listen to Him as well.
Preteen Ministries Director