Stop Talking & Listen

Sometimes we need to stop talking and just listen. Those who know me best are rolling their eyes right now. Let’s just say I’ve heard that before. If someone wrote a book about me it could be the title. A few days ago someone said it to me again. In the context of our relationship with God, it’s great advice. It’s great advice for me, especially lately.

In the not so distant past, I leaned upon prayer and scripture to bring me closer to God and whether the storm. Prayer became a critical component of my spiritual arsenal. The last few months were tough. There were some personal struggles going on in my life. Amidst it all I was desperate for help. I was staring straight ahead at the possibility of being forced to take a late-life mulligan. I didn’t know what to do. So, I turned to prayer and scripture for answers.

I prayed continuously, even when traveling in the car. I read scripture and devotionals every free second I found. I asked for wisdom, for knowledge, a change in direction, something, anything. If I thought the answer was left on Monday, it was right on Tuesday. I was going nowhere. The harder I prayed the worse things got. My prayer game was at a standstill.

The more I poured myself into scripture the wider gulf grew. Scripture and prayer became burdensome, like a chore. I began to dislike both.Right when things were hardest, God stopped talking to me. I was lost.

The advice I received was staggeringly simple. “Sometimes we have to stop talking so much and just listen to God”. Sometimes we seek God with so much effort and ferocity, reading scripture, praying constantly, that we fill our hearts and heads with so much noise we can’t hear God talking. So I started listening. I began to focus on and think about God, just Him, nothing more. I stopped thinking about my needs.

Then two days later City Pres began the current sermon series on the life of Abraham. He started with Abraham, hearing God’s call. Hearing God, was exactly what I needed. Abraham’s story resonated with me. God called Abraham into the desert. Abraham wasn’t exactly a spring chicken either. No sooner than Abraham pitches his tent, famine strikes. Abraham is forced to leave the land God promised him for Egypt. Then God evicted him from Egypt. Abraham couldn’t catch a break. God promised him the land, yet here he was, wandering in then out of Egypt as an old man.

Abraham must have been confused, not sure which direction to take. I imagine Abraham felt frustrated, and lost. Abraham responded with faith. He trusted in God, not in his promises. Ultimately, God had Abraham all along. He was with Abraham in the desert and He was with him in Egypt. No matter where he went God never left Abraham, and He never leaves us. Regardless of where life takes us. Even if we are wandering in the desert away from the promised land, God is with us. And He is with me too. I just needed to stop talking and listen.

Doug Serven