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I can’t hear if I don’t listen
How to find out what the Spirit is saying to me.
I did something unusual for a middle-aged woman in the UK. I spent a weekend in a shed in a lonely field, in the middle of nowhere. I could see no buildings, hear no people and had no Wi-Fi.
In truth, I had a lot to do. I had brought my books and laptop to do some serious writing as I had a deadline fast approaching and I wasn’t ready. What I needed, I thought, was a place totally free from distraction and human contact where I could just get stuff done.
I had also brought my Bible; how nice it would be to sit in the evening sun and slowly turn the pages and meditate on the Word of God. So much more restful than searching for verses on my smartphone app. But what happened was a revelation to me, a jolt into how busy I had let my thought life become.
Do you have a need?
As a young mum I was busy enough, goodness knows, but the hectic pace of practical family life and the feelings of need drove me to ring-fence a few minutes early morning or late evening to drink in verses from the Bible – they were my lifeline and gave me courage. As I got older I grew more mature in my understanding and the knee-jerk reaction to difficult situations got less. This is a good thing; but somewhere along the line, when we become more competent we can sometimes lose the need that drove us to seek daily help and guidance.
When I wake up these days, I have no children to care for. Instead I answer the most urgent emails on my phone, and check in to the blogs, websites and Instagram accounts I write on. I check Twitter. I check LinkedIn. I make lists. I try to keep up with running things before my feet have even hit the floor. I spend a lot of my day at my computer. I research; I think. I always need to do lots of thinking …
Like what you’re reading?
So, I sat on the hill by my hut, shaded by scented climbing roses and honeysuckle with a view across the valley to the hills beyond. I watched the wispy clouds scudding across a blue sky, and I started to read Acts.
I read about the ascension of Jesus, the giving of the Holy Spirit and how the early Church was guided and strengthened by the Spirit, and I read about signs and wonders. And I regained that sense of wonder about how deep I can go into the Word of God when I just sit and read and listen to what He wants me to learn about myself from what I am reading. There was no rush, no just looking up a verse in haste to get a quick answer to a sudden problem. And I realised: I need this time to dwell and think. I need to take the time to sit quiet and open my heart and say, “Here I am, and I’m listening …”
It isn’t just “nice” to be able to sit and meditate. I am only as useful in theto the extent that I hear and obey the Spirit in my own life. And to hear the Spirit I need to listen, really listen, if I want to get revelation for myself.
When the elders of Israel arrested and listened to Peter and John, they admitted to themselves that a miracle had taken place. (Acts 4.) They knew it with their brains. But they hadn’t listened with their hearts and their spirits, because their only concern was how to hush it up so the truth of it would spread no further to threaten their position of authority.
So, I’ve come home from my hut on the hill with a sense of need that my busy life should include times of meditation to make sure I listen to the Spirit with my spirit. That I don’t just fill my brain up with “good verses” which I understand intellectually, but that don’t make a deep impression on my heart, or give revelation that changes my life.
“Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.” 1 Timothy 4:15.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, unless otherwise specified. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.