Learning to Listen

One Wednesday evening, as people were gathering for our Fellowship Meal time, I put my plate on a table and went to get my drink and salad. When I returned I discovered that two young brothers from one of our families were preparing to find a seat for their family meal. One had placed his dinner at the same table I had chosen, but his younger brother was very concerned about his selection. “No! We can’t sit here!”, he was saying to his brother. “Why not?”, asked the older? “Because,” he responded, “we can’t sit by the man who talks!” I loved it! Sounds like a Native American Indian name, doesn’t it? “The Man Who Talks”.

But I’ve been thinking about that issue of talking versus listening lately and have wondered if God hasn’t said the same thing to me at times. He wants me to take time to listen to Him, but I’m often rushing into His presence, doing all of the talking, then rushing out again, leaving Him to say, “I can’t sit with the man who talks.” Or at least, the man who does all of the talking.

We live under media and information overload. There’s always a list of emails, tweets, phone calls, text messages and media voices lining up throughout the day to push information our way. Some, maybe most of it, is good. But lately I’ve been feeling like I’m inundated with so much information that I can’t keep up with it all. There’s always something waiting – a must-read article, an urgent email or text, or a blinking light on the phone which says I have messages awaiting my attention. Many of those communications are important because they represent people. But others don’t rise to the same level of importance, and I must be careful that I don’t treat them as such. If I’m not careful and discerning, I will end up giving my time, energy and attention to every voice that comes my way while allowing them to crowd out the time needed to hear the voice of the One who has the most important things to say.

I’m asking God for that discernment as I delete emails and unsubscribe from some “voices” that I don’t ever remember subscribing to. Sure, I’m keeping a lot of good stuff, such as blogs that I find encouraging and challenging, along with the connections to people and ministries that are always important. But I want to make sure that I’m not giving my best time and attention to everyone and everything else while failing to have un-rushed time to sit quietly in the presence of God, not doing all the talking, but listening to Him in prayer, in His Word, and through the quiet but clear voice of the Holy Spirit.

God, please keep me from being “the man who always talks“.
Pastor Rod

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