By Chris WittsWednesday 17 Jun 2015Morning Devotions with Chris WittsUncategorizedReading Time: 0 minutes
Charles Ringma has written a marvellous book called “Wash the feet of the world with Mother Teresa”. It takes a look at her life,and millions of people world wide know about her work amongst the poor and destitute. Mother Teresa believed in the simplicity of life,and she lived out that philosophy and died a poor woman. But there is one quote in the book I like. She said one day “Listen in silence,because if your heart is full of other things,you cannot hear the voice of God”. Here is this thought of listening to God. Is it possible to actually hear God speaking to you? Can we learn to listen to Him?
Try an experiment: Be as still and silent as you possibly can for the next 30 seconds or so. Listen as intently as you can,noticing the sounds you hear. How many sounds? What are they?–Close your eyes and begin to listen. Pause: Did you hear anything? Did you hear the ticking of the clock? Heater noise? Birds? Traffic? Voices? Your own breath? Your heartbeat? Ringing in your ears?
Our problem today is we suffer from noise pollution. Constant sound bombards us,and if its deadly quiet we must switch on the radio or TV. Is it because we are addicted to noise? Even in church the Minister asks for a time of silence to pray,and we feel uncomfortable. We don’t like silence. Often we use noise to cover up our feelings,thinking and seeing,.and in so doing,avoid the moments when the Lord may well be saying something to us. Isn’t there an inner longing to connect with him?
Let me tell you about a lady named Catherine who was aged 67. She was a widow of a doctor,a church goer,who had led a successful life. But there was something wrong,and she went to a counsellor. She complained that something was not quite right with her life,but she had not been able to determine what was wrong. She had travelled a lot,been an active volunteer,had close friends,and her grandchildren loved to spend time with her. She also enjoyed excellent health. Her counsellor was a bit puzzled and thought she must be suffering depression.. But then she said: “I’m just killing time to amuse myself.” She claimed that despite the fullness of her life,she was missing something. “You know,I’ve kept very busy all of my life: I’ve always had something to do,somewhere to go,somebody to be with. But now I don’t want to do any of that; I don’t enjoy anything! Lately I’ve begun to withdraw from so many activities,and my friends and family are becoming worried about me… To be honest, I don’t really think I’m depressed.. it’s just that underneath it all I have a feeling that there’s more to life than what I have experienced. I just can’t seem to get in touch with what this “something more” is.”
“I go to church every Sunday morning and Wednesday evening – have for years. I have taught Sunday school for the past 26 years,and have been president of one church committee or another for my entire adult life. But sometimes church isn’t speaking to the way I’m feeling right now. It’s just another activity.” The counsellor asked her . “What is going on between you and God?” There was a long pause. “Nothing”,she replied “and to be perfectly honest,there are times in the middle of the night when I wonder if there really is a God who is concerned with us humans. Yet there are other times when I crave God,but I can’t seem to make the connection.”
She paused,then her eyes widened,as though she had just discovered something. “I know what it is that I want—and nothing else will do. I want to experience God. It seems as though I’ve been behaving well and working for someone I’ve read and heard about,but have never actually met.”
Thomas Merton said “Silence is the first language of God; all else is a poor translation.” Catherine’s good intentions,her activity in the church,her persistent efforts,her very life in God had become lost in the translations of religious experience rather than the experience itself. But now she was ready to make the crucial transition from leading a good Christian life to falling in love with God.
Psalm 81:13 says “if only my people would listen to me”. Over the centuries,God has tried to speak to His people,only to find many are not listening.
The story is told about the American composer John Cage who died in 1992.Many people today consider him to be one of the most important composers of the last century. Some of his music is very unusual. His most famous piece of music is called ‘4 minutes 33 seconds’. It is four minutes and 33 seconds of silence. When ‘4 minutes 33 seconds’ was first performed in 1952,it caused a great sensation. Some people thought it was a really good practical joke. Other people thought that it was an outrage. But what John Cage was really trying to do was to make people listen to the sounds all around them in everyday life and not be afraid of silence.
Listening to God is also very important.
In the Bible we meet Elijah who learned to listen to God. He was on a mission for God but fled for his life,hiding in a cave,afraid. And God found him in a panic state and told him to stand at the cave’s entrance for a lesson. But Elijah was in no mood to listen even when God sent a storm,an earthquake and a fire. Then there was silence and a gentle whisper as the Lord spoke to Elijah and revealed what was going on. How like us Elijah is. We get distracted by noise; yet we must learn to hear God in the stillness of life today,by tuning into Him. You don’t have to try harder. This is not about your efforts; it’s about your willingness to be surprised by God. This means letting go of your agenda,of your assumption that you know how and where God will lead you. Many of us are like Elijah,straining to hear the voice of God over the whirlwinds and earthquakes of our lives. But the truth is,life seems to constantly intrude on that process.
Listening to God is probably the most important thing that will ever happen to a person. In fact your entire eternal future is based on you hearing God speaking to you and whether or not you listen to him. And this is because your spiritual life doesn’t begin until God speaks to you and you finally decide to listen.