Invitation To The Listening Life

Have you ever held a large conch shell to your ear and listened? Closing your eyes, you can imagine the sound of the ocean waves rushing against the shore.

Science says it’s actually the noise around us leaking into the shell and resonating, but I still like to imagine it is God miraculously sending the sound of the ocean into it to soothe my weary soul. It still awes me. Every time.

In order to hear it though, we have to be silent and listen. To be alert to catch the sound. To give it thoughtful attention. To allow our hearts to soak it in.

On April 19, I am joining a study led by Linda Stoll on the book The Listening Life: Embracing Attentiveness In a World of Distraction by Adam McHugh.

Listening is so important, isn’t it? It is not only perceiving a sound but making a conscious choice of concentration so our brains process meaning from the words we hear. I really need to be more intentional.

If we would approach God as listeners, wouldn’t our relationship with Him be closer and richer? Of course, He wants us to sigh and cry and pour out all our troubles and needs to Him. But He also wants us to listen to Him with all our hearts.

I’ve been trying to listen to Him more, but often my thoughts get distracted when I try to become silent before God. How often do I really listen to His way? Or even want to know His way, because I am so determined to get my way? I want to really listen to His Voice and follow Him wholeheartedly.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.
No one can snatch them away from me,
John 10:27-28

Wouldn’t our relationships with people improve, too, if we would use our hearts and ears more than our mouths? So many hurting people just need someone to listen and care. When we throw out Christian platitudes, we might just add to their burdens.

How about listening to our emotions? I’m quick to preach at my emotions rather than listen to them. God gives us our emotions for a reason, so I’m hoping to learn more about this area as well.

Above all, I’m looking forward to learning more about the Greatest Listener of All. GOD Himself. The great King of all kings who lowered Himself as a servant to pay attention to us as if each of us is the only one. He listens to us and empathizes with us more than anyone in this whole wide world will.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.
Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me,
and I will listen to you.”
Jeremiah 29:11-12

Here are the chapters in the book, each chapter containing several sections:

– The Listening Life
– The King Who Listens
– Listening to God
– Listening to Scripture
– Listening to Creation
– Listening to Others
– Listening to People in Pain
– Listening to Your Life
– The Society of Reverse Listening

I hope you will join us in Linda’s 2nd Book Open House. Linda stirs up discussion by sharing some quotes and she welcomes anyone’s input, whether or not you buy the book. In the first book study, I didn’t buy the book, but I still gleaned so many insights from reading her posts and the comments. I find her blog to be a safe place where everyone is welcome and nurtured with tender loving care.

“God Help Me”
by Plumb

“There is a wrestling in my heart and my mind
A disturbance and a tension I cannot seem to drive
And if I’m honest, there’s quite a bit of fear
To sit here in this silence and really hear You

What will You ask of me?
Will I listen to Your voice when You speak?

Help me to move, help me to see
Help me to do whatever You would ask of me
Help me to go, God help me to stay
I’m feeling so alone here
And I know that You’re faithful
But I can barely breathe
God help me…”