This week we continued our study of the Integrated Life with Sean focusing on the topic of "listening" to God. Listening and attention (which we looked at last week) are closely related. One of Merriam-Webster's definitions of listen is, "to hear something with thoughtful attention." Truly listening and paying attention takes time and effort on our part. We resist carving out time to listen for so many different reasons- fear of what we might hear, over-committed schedules, anxiety/worry about being still, control issues, pride/ego, etc. However, if we want to progress at all in our spiritual lives, we will need to carve out time to listen and pay attention.
Jesus knew what the Father wanted from/in His life because He would regularly take time creating space to be with the Father and to listen to Him (Mark 1:12, 35, 45, 2:13, 3:7, 13, 6:46 Luke 5:15-16, 6:12-13 and many more- Google Jesus and solitude). Anthony DeMello tells a story that goes something like this, The student asked the master, "if we are faithful to our practice when will we achieve enlightenment? " "Never" replied the Master. Distraught the student said, " What!! Why then do we practice all this (meditation, silence, solitude)?" "Ahh," said the master, "we practice so that we might be awake when enlightenment comes." Similarly, with our carving out time to be with God. Often times during our practice of being with and listening to God we seem to "achieve" nothing- we have no tangible result to show, no profound insight or wisdom received. But it is in these times we are training our attention and "inner ear" so to speak, to be attuned to the voice and loving heartbeat of God.
The more intentional we are about taking time just to listen to God, the more we will tune into His voice in the midst of busy days. Eventually, we will even hear His love song during stressful, unsure, and difficult times in our lives. We value progress over perfection as we begin to incorporate spending time to listen to God in our lives. We are also gentle with ourselves but intentional, knowing that just listening (versus speaking) to God is essential for our life.
Consider this week:
You are the only you that has ever lived…and if you cannot hear the sound of the Genuine in you, you will all of your life spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls.— Howard Thurman
Practice this week:
Set aside a quiet half hour or more if you are able (less if that seem too daunting). Sit in nature and close your eyes. Listen to the sounds that surround you and to the life that is singing in response to God's life. Do not judge. Just listen. Listen to the rhythm of nature that surrounds you. Know that you too are caught up in that embrace of unconditional love.