Brian had a cold last week, and there were sounds coming out of his chest that caused me to question what, exactly, was living inside his skin. Seriously. From across the room I heard things that sounded alien or perhaps supernatural. I’ve never heard anything like it.
And when he laid down – it got worse. Oh my, I’m not exaggerating; he sounded like a crackling fire accompanied by an occasional off-key flute. Not normal, right? This required investigation, so I grabbed my phone and googled lung noises; if that didn’t provide peace of mind, exorcism was next!
Amazingly, I found a website that had audio of various lung noises. Bingo! I listened to all of them, and while none of them sounded exactly like Brian, some were close; close enough that I kept reading.
Fortunately, he didn’t have any of the listed accompanying symptoms that suggested we needed to head to the ER. There was no fever, pain, or gross colored sputum, so probably not pneumonia. He was not short of breath, so probably not bronchitis. So we chose to do what the internet suggested: set up a vaporizer and take over-the-counter cold medication.
The good news is: he is getting better, so we’re assuming he either had a weird cold virus, or whatever took up residence in him decided to move out. We won’t question it any further. He sounds normal again, that’s enough.
The bottom line: I had no idea what I was searching for, or listening to. So I kept listening and searching, trying to find an explanation. The websites I visited assured me that we were OK, but I was ready to send Brian to the doctor if anything changed. I love him too much to take big risks with his health.
Throughout each day, I would intentionally stop what I was doing and listen for Brian’s lung noises. Yes, they were initially loud enough to hear across the room, but not if the TV was on, or if I was distracted by a friend, a book, or my social media newsfeed. I could not hear Brian if I was not listening. So, I listened.
We cannot hear God if we aren’t listening either. Oh we may hear sermons, pod casts, or people telling us things about God, but we won’t hear Him if we aren’t listening. And listening is hard work. It requires time, attention, intentionality, concentration, and most of all – it requires being quiet ourselves.
Quiet is a scarce commodity in our cacophonous culture. We are continually attacked by racket. It is essentially impossible to escape the din of dissonant voices that vie for our attention throughout the day. And yet, we don’t seem to mind.
As soon as we walk into the house, we turn the TV on. We get in the car and turn the radio on. Even when we are tucked away in our quiet time corners, reading our Bible, our minds are too often tuned to another channel, and we read without listening, or we spend the entire time doing all the talking, telling God what he needs to hear, see, or do.
To really hear God, we must be still before him and we must listen carefully, so that we can hear and obey his commands. Quietness and listening must go hand in hand in order to hear. It is not easy to be quiet. It is not easy to listen. And therefore it is almost impossible to hear God.
When we are not communicating well with God, we will have a very difficult time communicating well with anyone else. Our relationships with people all too often reflect what is going on in our relationship with God. And I’ll confess, lately, I’ve had a hard time communicating with some of the people I love the most. This is a clarion call to me that I need to be intentional about quieting myself and listening so that I hear God speaking.
What do I expect to hear? Well, there are no websites with audios of God’s voice that I can listen to, however, I can open my Bible, quiet my spirit, and listen to what I am reading. Then, I will hear God. When I hear God, he will sound very much like the language of the Bible.
When I listened to the audio of lung sounds, I wasn’t sure what I was hearing, so I did further research. When I listen to God as I read the Bible, sometimes I may not be certain of what he’s saying, so I have to read further. As I confess my lack of knowledge, submit to his infinite wisdom, and listen carefully, I can hear more clearly what he is saying.
He will tell me when my spirit is in disarray, he will reveal the symptoms of self-congratulation, complacency, and compromise. He will tell me when confession is the emergency medication I need in order to regain spiritual health. But I must be quiet, and I must listen, in order to hear.
Most importantly, when I am quietly listening, I can verify that it is God speaking because what I hear will fully align with the words of Jesus and the testimony of the prophets and Apostles – the teaching that was confirmed by God for all ages – the Bible. When what I hear doesn’t align perfectly with the Bible, then the one I am listening to is not God, nor is he/she speaking for God.
However, it is not enough to just hear what God is saying, we must put into action that which he tells us to do. The measure of how well we hear is whether we are changed by what we hear – our attitudes, our motives, and our actions.
How quiet is your quiet time? How well do you listen? Are you hearing from God often? Are you applying what you hear? Are you changing in a way that reflects you have indeed heard from God?
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