Enough of the noise. Instead, for 2018, my top goal for life is simple. I want to hear God. How? Better.
Better than what?
Well, the world. And the world’s noise. The angry people shouting at each other. The hurt people shouting back. The clutter and contention of our lives. Surely, after 2017, we know what that sounds like.
Judgment. Lies. Blame. Doubt. Worry. Ambition. Envy. Ego. (Are you making your own list?)
“The worst wheel of the cart,” said Benjamin Franklin, “makes the most noise.”
Another sound guy, Alexander Graham Bell, knew that more than most. His mother and wife were deaf. His grandfather, father and brother taught speech lessons to help people speak and hear better.
And his telephone? Bell’s goal was simple. He sought to help people cut through static and hear.
But can we apply that same goal to God?
The challenge is tough because God doesn’t shout. His voice is still and small. Just a whisper. The prophet Elijah discovered that the hard way.
He was fleeing from enemies, hiding in a cave in Mount Horeb, crying over his problems when an angel of the Lord told him to come out while God was passing by. Elijah obeyed, but a great and powerful wind tore through the mountain, shattering the rocks. Said Elijah:
“But the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice” (1 Kings 19: 11-12 KJV).
Then finally in that whisper, Elijah heard God.
It’s surely the most extraordinary moment of this drama-filled story. Elijah heard God.
Yes, after Elijah stopped running from his problems. After he took time to obey the Lord’s heeding. After he contrasted all the noisy destruction erupting around him. Elijah turned from all of that, and then? Elijah heard Him.
In a still, small voice.
Just a whisper.
For all of us in 2018, with our hurrying and scurrying, our going and coming, our fussing and fighting and fleeing, the promise of this Bible story in this brand New Year should arrest us in two resounding ways. First, it assures us that God speaks. Second, even better, it confirms we can hear Him.
God’s Spirit speaks to ours. And we can hear Him.
Despite the noisy woes of 2017? No, because of the noisy woes of 2017.
We shall hear God. Because we elect to. What better choice in 2018 than to listen first and most to Him?
As Charles Spurgeon put it, “God is there to listen.” Indeed, our first object, said William Barclay, is “not so much to speak to God, but to listen” to Him.
To ponder how, I started writing—and just finished—a little booklet, “The Busy Person’s Guide to Hearing God.”
If you’d like a free copy, join my humble faith journey and get the booklet here.
For the next few months, I plan to walk through the adventure of trying to hear God. Yes, it takes intention. (And the right backpack.) But the results? A life transformed.
That’s what Alexander Graham Bell learned. Fighting to claim the first patent for a telephone, he wrote to his parents:
“It is a neck and neck race between Mr. (Elisha) Gray and myself who shall complete our apparatus first. He has the advantage over me in being a practical electrician—but I have reason to believe that I am better acquainted with the phenomena of sound than he is—so that I have an advantage there.”
Their battle was not pretty. Details of their patent fight still are debated.
One thing we learn from Bell’s effort, however, is that hearing well takes amazed effort. Humility, too. Plus some surprises. (Richard Foster advises, for example, that we return to the “common” elements of life: “Like walks, and talks, and good wholesome laughter. Like work in the yard, and chitchat with neighbors.” Find more on his and others’ wisdom in the free prayer guide for subscriber friends.)
The path to hearing God is a rich one, indeed. Here’s just one Bible promise:
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3 NIV).
Does that journey call to you? In 2018, I‘m praying to walk it. Will you join me? If you will, just tell God this: Yes. Then? Let’s dare declare it a Happy New Year!
Patricia Raybon is an award-winning author of books and essays on grace, race and mountain-moving faith.
To travel along on Patricia’s Faith Journey, please click here.
Any Scriptures quoted, unless noted otherwise, are the New Living Translation of the Holy Bible.
Photo Credit: Sturti at istock photo