Do you still remember the time when we had no cell phones and televisions? When I was younger, the only gadget we had, as a family was a radio limited to a few radio stations. I remember at around six in the evening, my dad would turn it on and listen to his favorite news station.
At half past six, he would then retreat by the window with my mom, talking together and telling us children to be quiet and focus on doing our homework from school.
Today, we have all kinds of distraction and noise. We have sound noise, visual noise and all kinds of diversions to keep us disrupted. Try sitting down inside a large city mall and observe people. I did this a while ago and I took note of several young people with their earphones or headsets, young and old sitting looking at their cell phones, facebooking, tweeting, texting or just playing a game. I see people who are engaged in phone conversations while walking or window-shopping. It was only I sitting down doing nothing but looking around. There were other distractions as I continued walking. At the food court, I see displays or messages that say, “buy me! eat me, drink me.”
I must confess I find myself becoming weary of the noise, the crowds, the pace, the relentless press of activities, and the never-ending rush of traffic. While I thoroughly enjoy some busyness and hectic schedules, I have to admit that I ache for moments of relief. I ache for stillness and quietness.
Noise and crowds have a way of sucking our energy and distracting our attention, making our relationship with God more like a burden more than comfort. Noise and words and furious hectic schedules can dull our senses, closing our ears to God’s still small voice, deadening us numb to his whispers.
We can all understand the importance of being quiet when someone is talking. How do you feel if there is something important you wanted to say and the people around you are listening to music, watching video or texting on the phone? The Bible has the same sentiment to people who don’t listen to God.
“Listen to this, Job; stop and consider God’s wonders” (Job 37:14). God wanted to show Job who He is. But Job was so much focused on his own personal answers to his friends’ questions. In effect God says, “Job, stop. Listen to me!”
Many of us are struggling today because we work so hard trying to find solutions to our problems and can’t seem to find the right solutions. Is it possible that some of us have projects where we want God to bless our agenda instead of us learning to listen to Him first? And see what his agenda is for us? Do we want God to okay our plans rather than our trusting His plans? Do we want God to bring us glory rather than our bringing Him glory?
When we learn to stop and listen, we let God do the leading.
We all love the story of Moses the deliverer of the Israelites from captivity. Right? In reality, it wasn’t Moses who led the people out of Egypt. It was the LORD. God led them by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Read the story again and see that Moses didn’t even know how to get out of Egypt. He was just following instructions. Sometimes we need to learn to listen more and be inspired by God’s leadership.
He is our Leader. He directs our steps.
The funny thing is (or sad!) — If Moses had been doing the leading and not following God’s lead, he would have taken Israel on the shortest route, which was the dangerous route. That’s the way we are, too, always looking for the fastest, shortest, and easiest way to get something done. Yet God doesn’t work that way. In fact God doesn’t’ always work in the way that seems best to us.
Instead of leading the children of Israel on the shortest route from Egypt to the Promised Land, God took them to the extended and lengthy way. Some of us are going through some challenges right now, perhaps because God is taking us the long way. But God has a reason and a plan for taking you to the seeming “time-wasting way.”
When God doesn’t take the shortest way to your goal, just stand still and trust God to lead you safely around unseen obstacles. Remember, God can see the end. He may be taking you to the long way, but it’s the best way.
Building relationships take time. Growing deeper in intimacy takes longer time. Time spent with God that may look like a long way to us is time well spent. What is the best use of time except that it is spent with our Lord?
When we stand still, we can focus. When we are quieter, we hear more. When we listen to God, he teaches us something. When I think about the times in my life where I wanted to take the shortcut to get what I wanted, there were occasions where the Lord made me wait longer than I wanted to.
Isaiah the prophet says, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
Our Lord Jesus tells us “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of me, for my yoke is easy and my burdens are light. For I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:29).
When we stand still we can listen to God just like Moses did. Moses listened for the Lord’s instructions. He realized that without listening to God, he couldn’t get where God wanted him to go.
When I say the phrase “stand still,” I don’t mean being passive or resting on fate. Fate says, “Whatever will be, will be.” Faith not Fate, is what I am talking about. Faith changes everything. And “standing still” is an act of faith — an active trust and resting on God’s promises. It is a determination to cease all questions, doubts and useless strivings. I am referring to what the Bible says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6). It is living in God’s grace.
Ever since I’ve been in the ministry, a major area of striving for me has been this matter of knowing the voice of God. I believe this effort is common to many Christians today. We constantly ask, “How can I know if a voice I hear is God’s? How can I discern whether it’s his, or mine, or my flesh’s?”
The Holy Spirit “speaks” often by leading us to pertinent scripture passages, showing us God’s mind on any matter and telling us what steps to take. Are we so eager to hear an inner still small voice when we don’t even desire to hear his revealed, written voice? Do we wish to go deeper in relationship with God? Take time to hear him. He speaks to us through the Holy Spirit using the scriptures and through “still small voice” as we continue our walk with him in intimacy.
The fact is, God doesn’t have to tell us everything for us to have intimacy with him. He doesn’t have to reveal all his plans to us. In fact, we can have intimacy with God simply by giving up our efforts and learning to listen and trust his voice.
It is a relationship that has gone so deep with trust and faith that it can say to God, “Lord, even if I never hear another word from you, you’ve still given me everything I need. I know you love me — your word has come to me through Jesus Christ who lives in me (Galatians 2:20) — and I’m going to rest in that. I know I can trust in you. There is no reply necessary!”
But the beauty about God is that – He loves us so deeply and desires so much that we listen and speak to Him! He invites everyone to commune with Him and enjoy the fellowship with Him (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).