Last month saw the funeral of one of our church family. The lady that sadly passed away was a very quiet person both in demeanour and volume. Every time I encountered her; I would struggle to hear what she was saying. It was a constant struggle to strain to hear, made even worse in these times of social distancing and face masks. I have to admit it took effort to not make an excuse to finish the conversation or not to drop into ‘husband mode’ and nod in what I thought were all the right places while not really listening.
I did, however, persevere and the rewards were great. Beneath the quiet exterior and behind the difficulties of hearing a small voice there were great stories of her life, exciting exploits, pearls of wisdom and encouragement. When I actively listened, I found that the exterior view that I and many would have had of this lady, hid the true wealth of her history and experience. When I caught hold of her small voice I was rewarded beyond my expectation.
I find the same true in my relationship with God. Sometimes in my life, God is dramatic and loud and obvious. Much of the time though He is quiet, difficult to experience and a struggle to hear.
I am not alone in this; the bible tells of Elijah (1 Kings 19:11-13) who didn’t always find God in the dramatic either: “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.”
I will miss my chats with this lady at church, it may have been a struggle to hear her but it was worth the effort.
In this busy time, where communication is not always easy because of separation, face masks and the necessary use of technology to bridge the miles. It is easy to stop listening because it is hard. Can I encourage anyone and everyone to keep listening to those around us, even if it takes effort? They reward of listening can be great for both parties the listener and the person being listened to.
I find the same is true of God when I take the time to listen, to read his word, to look at nature and creation, I tend to find a reward in experiencing Him. When I don’t take the time or make the effort, I don’t.
This month let’s make the effort to listen to the still, small voices around us.