The Habit of Listening

12 01 2011

A thousand voices vie for my attention. Images and ideas explode like fireworks. It’s a war zone, where everything is noise and confusion.

And that’s only in my head. I haven’t even finished breakfast yet.

A platoon of to-dos stand by, marching in place to the music of the screeching steamer on my espresso machine, each one eager to spring into action, and a coil tightens inside me. Then from somewhere — I don’t know if it’s above or within — a whisper. “First things first. This is the year of rest.”

Be still . . .

I turn my back on the clamoring masses and pick up the small white card George left on the table after rising in the wee hours to commune with Truth. This is a daily grace; I know what I’ll find written there. Four passages of scripture, two from the Old Testament and two from the New. And a personal note. Something the Lord of the Universe whispered to him for today.

I carry the card to my inner room and open to the first passage. 2 Chronicles 30. Hezekiah restoring the Passover. I read but don’t read. How is it I can approach the Word of the living God yet listen to lesser voices?  I stop, go back, and try again. And again. Wrestling to enter rest. Striving to truly be still. And then, finally, on the fourth read, I hear. The call to repentance, the mocking refusal, the remnant who humbled themselves. “The hand of God was also on Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the word of the LORD.”

And know . . .

In an instant history bows before sovereignty. In one sentence God orchestrates, kings and princes command, a people hear with one heart and obey. And I see us, His bride, wooed by a Lover who never forces Himself on us, but reaches into our blindness with sight, into our pride with humility, into our rebellion with His irresistible grace. And we fall in love, because He first loved us.

I blush with shame as I think of all the times I’ve left that card on the table and rushed off into frothing nonsense, always intending to come back later, sometimes managing to do so, but rarely still long enough to really listen. Then I blush again, not for shame, but at a Love so patient and tender, waiting with new mercies mine every morning. I see myself with all my ridiculous me-ness, swallowed in a holy wholeness of heart with the community of saints, and at last the lesser voices fall silent.


This is the year of rest. I’m only beginning to learn what that means, but at least one thing is clear. For me, it means ignoring the clamor to put first things first. And then to listen.

Today’s post is part of Ann Voskamp’s “Walk with Him Wednesdays,” a community event for sharing spiritual practices that draw us nearer to God’s heart. Visit her site to read more posts.



9 responses

12 01 2011
Nancy Kourmoulis

Yes, to let the lesser voices be silent and the higher voice speak rest and peace to the soul. Good word.

13 01 2011

Thanks, Nancy!

13 01 2011

Sometimes I think I have hearing trouble. At the hospital where I work, if a patient struggles with this, I write HOH (hard of hearing) in his file beside his testing results. It helps me know when I interpret them that maybe his performance was hindered by that hearing deficit.

Sometimes I think that, beside my name in the Book of Life (it’s in there, I know it is), God has penned: HOH.

Your post is a good hearing aide for me, Jean.

13 01 2011

I have no doubt your name is in there, Laura. And if God has pegged you as HOH, then I’m probably listed as stone deaf. 😉

I’m so glad this post came through loud and clear for you.
Love, Jeanne

14 01 2011

I’ve often thought of the scripture, “Labor to enter into his rest.” And it sounds as though this is exactly what you were doing in hushing the myriad voices. No easy task to still the noise, and yet the rest and peace is well worth the labor of love. Beautifully written Jeanne.

15 01 2011

Exactly. Not easy, but worth it. Thanks, Debra!

21 01 2011
deb@talk at the table

actually referred to my hard head in my last post .
It’s as hard to say no as it is to yes I’ve learned/am learning.

and I didn’t realize that you didn’t know Ann. What to say. The Spirit .

21 01 2011

Your head may be hard, Deb, but it is filled with beautiful thoughts. As for Ann, I’m getting to know her with delight. Like you, she is a gift. God is good.

4 02 2011
Two (or three) posts and a confession « The View From Here

[…] in the privacy of my office, I read it aloud with him. As we worked our way through the verses George jotted on the card for today, we came to Matthew 12:22-30, the story of Jesus healing a blind and mute man and how the […]

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