I was pretty sure no one was – listening that is, to me. As a substitute teacher, I am somewhat used to this feeling that no one is paying attention to what I am saying. Actually, it is not just a feeling that I’m not being heard, it is a reality, an observable fact. Today, the noise level in the high school classroom assured me that they could not possibly hear me call their names for attendance purposes. Raising my voice would still not ensure I would be heard over the dozen or more of the class who were laughing and talking, well – let’s just say they were using their outdoor voices at full volume even though they were all seated right next to each other.
I guess none of them were feeling heard by their peers, so their voices continued to rise up over each other – each talking louder in an effort to command the group’s attention, which was constantly shifting as they continued to shout over each other. But that’s what we do when we aren’t heard, isn’t it? We turn up the volume of our voice. (commonly called shouting) It’s our natural instinct to get louder in our effort to be heard.
Unfortunately for the students, if they didn’t hear me call their name, they didn’t respond letting me know they were present. The result? They were erroneously marked absent. All because they didn’t bother to take the time to listen.
So now of course, I’m wondering – has God been calling my name? Is the noise all around me so loud that I would not hear His voice if He were? Like my students, do I refuse to turn the volume down, even long enough to listen for my name? Something else I notice about my students is that they often have earbuds or headphones in or over their ears, preventing them from hearing others’ attempts to engage them in conversation. They may feel isolated, but because of their own noise, they don’t realize others are calling their name.
I’m thinking this is how God must feel. He’s calling out to this lost world and we just aren’t listening.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalm 19:1-4)
But we don’t hear His message. We are too busy shouting at each other and over each other and listening to our own music and wisdom and ways – the noise of our TVs, radios, video games, social media platforms, (Facebook, tic-toc, twitter etc) fills our ears and our minds, leaving no room to receive any whispered words from God. Which brings me to another ironic twist.
God could just speak louder, couldn’t He? Isn’t His voice like roaring thunder? God could just shout louder than all the noise that surrounds me in this world. But that’s not how it happened with Elijah when he was in a cave on a mountain, wanting and waiting on a word from God. In 1 Kings 19:11-13, I read what took place,
“Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.”
The Creator of the universe could drown out all my noise by being the loudest voice by far. But He chooses to whisper to get my attention. I guess that’s why I need to be still (quiet) in order to know that He is God. (Psalm 46:10) Maybe when I am lamenting that God is silent, that is not the case at all. It is more likely that I don’t hear Him because I am not listening for His voice. I have my headphones on and my chosen noise turned up full volume. In my attempt to drown out the din of noise around me with noise of my own, I simply add another decibel to the noise level and turn a deaf ear to His still small voice.
After God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, they tended to turn a deaf ear to God as they wandered in the desert. Moses said these words to them,
“Listen, O heavens, and I will speak; hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants. I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our God!” (Deuteronomy 32:1-3)
I know my Heavenly Father hears me, I have His assurance on that. “Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.” (Jeremiah 29:12)
“I love the Lord, for He heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy. Because He turned His ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live.” (Psalm 116:1-2)
So my Heavenly Father listens to me, but do I listen for His words? (post – “the conversation of prayer”) Conversation is a two way street. I shouldn’t be doing all the talking. I find these instructive words in Proverbs 4:20-22 and in James 1:19,
“My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body.”
“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,”
While I have been thinking God silent, I have failed to realize that I have not turned down the volume, taken out my ear buds, sought out a solitary spot and gotten still in anticipation of His whispered words to me. I have been too busy to listen well, or to listen at all. But now I want to say with Samuel,
“Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:10)
I want to do what King David purposed to do in Psalm 62:5,
“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him.”
Surely in the silence I will hear His whispered words guiding me in the way I should go –
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’ ” (Isaiah 30:21)
my Heavenly Father is speaking, when I am quiet and listening, I will hear Him –
sincerely, Grace Day