December 30, 2008

Resolved, for 2009, Part 2: Listen

"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand." - Jesus, in John 10:27, 28

Every few years, it seems, a book with a title like "How to Listen to God" is published. Someone writes a book, usually a book of less than 200 pages, in which is explained a formula or method for hearing from God. Sometimes these books are bestsellers and sometimes you can find multiple copies on sale for one dollar each at the local used bookshop.

I don't trust those types of books, though I don't doubt the sincerity of many who write about such things. Writing a book with a title like "How to Listen to God" or "How to Hear from God" is very much like writing a book titled "How to Hear from Your Best Friend" or "How to Understand Your Father or Mother When They Speak."

Now, you might say, "I can physically see my friend" or "I can touch or hug my parent. That physical contact makes it easier to understand them." Really? How many times have some of us sat across a table from someone, looked them in the eye, listened carefully, and understood nothing? Or, believed nothing spoken from their lips?

In John chapter 10, verses 14 and 15, Jesus says "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me--just as the Father knows me and I know the Father--and I lay down my life for the sheep." This is not a casual knowing, but a closeness and a connection as deep as shared identity. This knowing is not something we have to "work up to." It's already there, if we are open to it.

For me, the question is not "how do I hear from God?" The question is, "Am I willing to hear and know what God has to say?" I think the more willing I am, the easier it will be to hear and know. The less willing I am, the more difficult it will be. The weaknesses and shortcomings are always on my end.

How many times have we heard from God, and immediately recoiled, thinking: "I'm not doing that!" "I'm not going there!" "That's too hard!" "You want me to apologize to THEM?" "I don't have enough money for that." "I can't start that project; I don't know the right people." "Sell my house and move; are you kidding?"

Do I want to hear from God, or do I want God to tell me what I want to hear?

Resolved, for 2009: Listen to God.

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