When my oldest son, now a teenager, was about five-years-old, he was extremely concerned about a trip we were planning to the beach.
“J.R., sweetheart, why are you so worried about the trip?” My sister inquired.
“Well, Aunt Becky,” he began, forehead creased with fret, “it’s a six hour drive—and I’m afraid I’m going to run out of things to talk about.”
Trust me, little motor mouth did NOT run out of things to talk about. Frankly, I don’t think the child even paused for a breath, despite our efforts to silence him. Our attempts ranged from suggesting we “play the quiet game” to bribing him with milkshakes.
“He talks CONSTANTLY,” my husband, John, used to say, and how true it was. It started when he was a toddler and is what led John and me to break our vow to never bring that obnoxiously purple Barney into our home. Somebody loaned us a video, though, and once we learned that dancing dinosaur could keep J.R. quiet for 20 minutes…well, we couldn’t get to Wal-mart fast enough to raid the shelves of Everything Barney.
These days, J.R.’s nature is on the quiet side and he recently made a wise observation about that trait. “You really learn a lot more by listening and watching than you do by talking all the time.”
Amen to that! I’m thinking, too, that God might like to see a lot more of His children come to that conclusion. While talking to God is important, so is listening to what He says; yet, how often do we go before His throne and hog the conversation?
In Habakkuk 2: 20, we read, “But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.” (NIV)
I love that scripture but am curious as to how often God actually gets to enjoy that silence. After all, a quiet creation we aren’t. Chickens squawk, dogs bark, flies buzz and people—oh, the people—who just talk ALL THE TIME. It seems like some people have never heard the expression “silence is golden”—probably because they were talking at the time.
Admittedly, I’m a talker. My dad always said I never meet a stranger, and my husband usually gives me a 15 minute heads up before he’s ready to leave a gathering—he knows it will take me that long to say bye to everyone . That’s just chit-chat stuff, though; as I’ve grown in my walk with the Lord, He’s shown me a lot about handling full-bodied conversations, and how my two cents goes much farther only when it’s appropriate, needed or requested.
As for my conversations with Him, He’s shown me the importance of letting them be just that—conversations, not monologues. Back when I was doing all the talking (presenting my wish list, giving long commentaries about ME, whining about my woes and forgetting to thank and praise Him for all my blessings), I wonder how many times I missed the Lord’s response. Did I notice when He placed something on my heart, spoke to me through scripture or sent wisdom through the mouth of a Christian friend?
Sometimes we truly want to hear from God, but there seems to be a barrier of distortion or silence. What then? I think we must examine our hearts and see if we have the Heart of Habakkuk. This prophet so longed to hear from God that he vowed to wait for as long as it took. Instead of clutching to his own agenda and desires, he fully surrendered himself to learning and doing God’s will. God, of course, was faithful to Habakkuk’s obedience!
We must also study scripture because God’s Word is God’s Will. Whether He responds to us through our own hearts, the voices of others or the circumstances around us, everything from Him will line up with His Word.
We’ll never run out of things to talk to God about and He’ll never run out of ways to respond.
He’s listening to us…but are we listening to Him?
c. Donna G. Morton May 2008
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