While watching family videos, we determined that my dad’s had the same key ring on the same belt loop since he was 16. While I was a teenager I realized that if I’m in a public place, I can distinguish the sound of his keys – the specific melody of the medal on the ring and the weight of his gait. This has surely come in handy on various occasions, knowing when he was coming up behind me or finding him in a crowded store. Today, on the other hand, I was grocery shopping with him and my brother and couldn’t find either of them. As I looked up and down each aisle, I paid special attention to see if I could hear his keys. At one point, I heard three different sets of keys and upon looking around realized that they were three different men, not my father. I stopped for a second and reflected on how I so easily feel this way with my Heavenly Father – I try to listen for the sound of His voice and all I hear are cheap imitations. Yet, with the sounds of these other ‘jingling keys,’ I am distracted from hearing the sound of the very keys I am longing to hear.
Pastor Miles introduced this morning in church a “Call to Prayer” based off of the verse Isaiah 55:6 which says, ““Seek the Lord while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near.” In an email to the congregation later today, he writes:
If you were to honestly seek God and say to Him, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening,” what might your life become? Imagine what might happen if you discovered how to discern the voice of God in the midst of all the others that vie for your attention. Imagine if you invited His input into your daily routine and allowed Him to direct your life. Imagine the difference you could make in our world if you summoned the courage to live wide open to Him.
Imagine if even with all of the other ‘key chains,’ I could distinguish that of my dad’s without getting distracted or confused. But how often do I go about my life truly, intently listening for God’s voice? (By the way, I ended up finding my dad and brother in the supermarket!) Recently, I’ve been looking for it in the form of clear direction. What if He wants to say something else? Henri Nouwen writes about listening as the meaning of the word “obedience.” Of ‘listening’ he says, “Obedience is a listening in love to God, the beloved Father. In this listening there is neither a moment of distance, nor fear, nor hesitation, nor doubt, but only the unconditional, unlimited, and unrestrained love that comes from the loving God” (Compassion, page 35).
I admit that I don’t listen this way. When Samuel responded to God’s call late in the night, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10) I get the impression that he speaks with some boldness rather than fear or doubt. Pastor Miles challenged us all to commit to listening to the Lord, and spending time doing so each day for the month of August. I commit to doing this along with 102 people who committed this morning. Will you join us in actively listening for what God might say by committing to set time aside to seek Him and call on His name?