Do you know anyone who talks more than they listen? Someone who asks the same question over and over without ever hearing the answer?
While these types of behaviors are somewhat understandable—and unfortunately common—coming from my special needs daughter, I had to shake my head the other day when listening to a call-in radio show. More like I wanted to scream at the caller to shut up and listen.
The woman on the line had gone to the trouble to call in and sit on hold for who knows how long until the host had room in the rhythm of callers and advertisement breaks to put her on the air. With millions of people listening in, she presented the dilemma requiring the sage advice of the host. Except, unlike the countless previous callers to the show, she never stopped talking. And it wasn’t like her problem was that complicated since she started repeating herself about the third sentence. And kept on repeating herself while the host politely…and then not-so-politely tried to interrupt her monologue.
“Hey, lady. You called me, so do you want to know what I think?”
She finally stopped talking and the host gave her and the nation a practical and wise solution to her trouble. But as the show moved into another commercial break, I had to wonder if I’m ever like that lady when I’m talking to the One who has all of the answers.
When I pray, am I so busy dumping my complaints or concerns that I never stop to listen? Am I fixated on getting through all of the items on my I-promised-I-would-pray-for-you list before I run out of time? Do I really think I need to tell God all of the ugly details and feelings about a situation before I am ready to hear a solution?
The possibility that listening is integral to abiding, reminded me of the prophet Elijah in the desert who discovered that God often speaks in a still small voice. Or an earlier time when the boy Samuel awakened to a voice in the middle of the night and responded “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:1-10)
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. ~ John 10:27 NIV
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” ~ Isaiah 30:21 NIV
Listen and silent are made up of the same letters. Think about it.
And then this thought I found online: God gave us mouths that close and ears that are always open.
As crazy and noisy as my life can get most days, it’s that much more important that I make time to shut up and listen.