Learning to Be Quiet

I'm sorry it's been such a long time since I posted.  I've been a little distracted because we had a baby!  I will write the exciting tale of Leo's birth story soon, but until then, please enjoy my further thoughts on the topic of my last post: Hearing from God.

As a teen, I wasn't able to regularly attend a church youth group.  However, God graciously met me for a few months each year through one youth pastor named John.  I clearly remember one conversation we had about hearing God.  I think I was stressed because I wanted to know God's will for my life - do I attend college?  What should I study?  What should I do after college?  I believed God could certainly tell me exactly what he wanted me to do.  The question I had was - how do I know it's him?  Pastor John sat down with me and explained something: God is always speaking.  The question is not what he is saying, but am I listening?  Is my spirit in tune with his?  Am I actually willing and open to hear what He is saying?

I thad never occurred to me before that God wanted to talk to me.  I always figured it was a trial, a test.  If I worked at it hard enough and waited long enough and cried out strong enough then maybe God would deign to speak something to me.  God is always speaking?  He wants me to hear him?  If he wants me to hear him, then what would keep me from listening?

Myself.  If anything is in the way, it is probably me.  So how do I keep myself from distracting...myself?

It took me a while to really work on this skill, but during my sophomore year of college I decided I wanted to grow in my ability or capacity to hear God's voice.  I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but I decided the place to start was learning to quiet my own mind and spirit.  I decided practicing the discipline of fasting might help, so I took one hour every Thursday, skipped lunch, and sat in the library near a large window.  My goal: be quiet.  Quiet my mind.  Quiet my spirit.  Train myself to be silent.

Turns out it was really hard.  I kept a piece of paper and a pen nearby to write down the inevitable "I can't forget to do thus and such, and I should email so and so, and it's my turn to take out the trash from our apartment..."  After weeks and weeks of practicing this silence, it started to become easier.  It still wasn't easy, but it grew easier.  I grew to really love and look forward to every Thursday.  I grew to love the discipline of quieting my soul.  Nothing remarkable happened as far as I can recall.  I received no epiphanies.  But I did learn how to be still.

Somehow, through those hours of disciplined silence, God's voice became clearer.  I wouldn't say that I came anywhere close to being 100% accurate about what God was saying.  I would say, however, that learning how to practice the skill of silence did give me the first tool in the "how to hear God's voice" tool belt.  It was a beginning.

Thankfully, God led me the next semester toward the next skill I needed to learn: trusting His voice.  I'll write about that experience soon.  Until then, here's my question for you to ponder:

If God is always speaking, what do you think He might be trying to communicate to you today?


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