My family decided that we would drive to Bundaberg in Queensland to spend Christmas with family. This meant spending a 'lovely' two days in the car there and then two days back. You might not think this would be the time that God would speak to you, but it's often when we least expect it that we hear from God.
As is often the trouble between the generations, the music my parents enjoyed is not really the sort of stuff I'm interested. So, I bought myself some headphones. This way I could enjoy my music at the same time as my parents enjoyed theirs.
So, when we set off, I put my headphones on, turned the volume up a bit and listened to the opening bars of the song. That's when my parents put their music on and it drowned out mine. So, I turned it up. Then so did they. So, I turned it up again. And again. Then, completely unexpectedly God said to me, “Do you hear me?”
Do you hear God's music?
This story of the battle of the music allowed God to speak to me. He revealed to me that my music through my headphones was like His voice, and the music in the car of my parents was the world. The world was becoming so noisy that I couldn't hear Him.
It made complete sense. Although I tried to turn up God once or twice from the noise of the world, I eventually gave up and let the world overtake me. And here was God asking me to turn Him up until I could hear only Him.
I think this happens to all of us, a lot of the time. The noise of the world is almost overwhelming. There is so much cluttering for our attention, so many things for us to do, that our hearing is overtaken by these things. And because God is a less tangible item, it is easier to push Him aside. Out of sight, out of mind, as the saying goes.
The virtue of listening
The definition of listening is thus - “make an effort to hear something; be alert and ready to hear something.” It isn't a passive behaviour, it is active. We need to actively listen to and for God.
God speaks many times in the Bible on the importance of listening. He describes the difference between those who listen and those who don't.
“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice” (Proverbs Chapter 12, verse 15) and “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent” (Proverbs Chapter 17, Verse 28).
He talks about the importance of listening for his voice.
“Cease to hear instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of wisdom” (Proverbs Chapter 19, verse 27) and “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may have wisdom in the future” (Proverbs Chapter 19, Verse 20).
What God is trying to make clear to us is that the world talks and makes lots of noise. But we are not of this world, and that suggests we need to do something different – listen!
Listening when lost
When we are struggling in our faith, or with other people, it is easy to run to someone for their advice, or simply to vent and let out our frustration. But many of us don't consider running to God and asking for His advice. And if we do, we talk rather than listen.
“Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason you do not hear them is that you are not of God” (John Chapter 8, Verse 47).
It is clear that God values us when we are silent and listening for His words. When we listen to God, we hear His good news, rather than just our voices complaining about whatever is wrong. But God reminds us that we need to listen – that He will answer and comfort us if we listen to Him.
So, if you are lost, or feel you can't hear the word of God, stop and check whether you are listening or you are talking. Adjust as necessary and God will speak lovingly to you. “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known” (Jeremiah Chapter 33, Verse 3).
Father God, help us today to listen to you, to listen out for you, and to block out the noise of the world. When we bring our struggles to you, help us listen for your love and comfort and guide us from simply complaining. May we remember that listening leads to wisdom. In Jesus name, Amen!
Emma Bamford is a Melbourne writer and edits the International young writers for Press Service International. She has a passion for igniting faithful living in Christ. Emma has recently started a Bachelor of Theology.