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Say what?

Have you ever been guilty of just talking on and on, really not cognizant of all you are saying? Believe it or not, we might do this pretty frequently in our quiet times of prayer. We are supposed to be quiet for a while, but we find ourselves just rambling. I wonder just how many times we rant on and on to God about something, all the while ignoring his desire to get a word in edge-wise? It amazes me how much "talking" I do in prayer time and just how little "listening" I allow! I think we might be quick to spill our guts out before God, but I really wonder just how quick (and possibly willing) we are to listen to his instruction!

"I'm speechless, in awe—words fail me. I should never have opened my mouth! I've talked too much, way too much. I'm ready to shut up and listen." (Job 40:3-5)

I am ready to shut up and listen....pretty poignant words, huh? Two conditions are laid out - we have to "shut up" and we have to "listen". There is quite a difference between being "silent" and being "attentive"! In fact, most of the time, we manage a little silence, but still miss the message, simply because we were not paying attention! We can muster up quite a bit of complaining in our present circumstances. For Job, he had lost family, flock, and his own pride - all causing him to find a whole lot of things to "talk about" without ever sitting quietly to "hear about" these things from God's perspective. We do this ourselves, don't we? We find all kinds of ways to belabor the facts of our failings, frenzies, and fiascoes, all the while spinning our yarns about why we "think" these have occurred. In turn, we tell ourselves a story - just not always the most accurate accounting of the facts!

What occurs when we take time to finally hear about things from God's perspective is a change in our perspective! When we begin to transition from "talking about" our mess toward "listening to learn" from that mess, we are going to hear God's "message" in our mess and we might actually learn something which will liberate us! I am not proposing we just sit quietly and wait for some "voice from heaven" to speak to us - cuz I haven't heard his 'audible' voice yet! In fact, "listening" is an active process. This is one of the reasons you will find me journaling sermons, my own bible reading, and just some of those special moments when God needs to do something in me. It "focuses" me into an active role in listening.

Listening involves receiving. There has to be a "receptive" heart. Receiving involves something being "conferred" - there is a transfer of information, substance, or meaning which brings to light things often not otherwise considered. When we are in a receiving "mode", we are open to new insight - to take into our possession something otherwise not known or understood. Receiving leaves an impression - there is something which affords or allows "space" to be taken by what is received. For example, when you make a plaster-of-paris "cast" of your hand, you leave behind an "impression" of your hand. The plaster "received" your hand - yielding "space" for the imprint. When God's word is allowed a place in our hearts, it leaves an impression!

Receiving encompasses us having a welcoming spirit - there is an openness to "entertain" what God is doing, saying, and revealing. I used the word "entertain" in quotes because we can associate with this word - it carries the idea of "holding something in the mind" - allowing it to begin to affect how we process the information we possess. We "hear" a lot of stuff - but we choose what we will "entertain". I wonder just how much God might actually speak into us if we "shut up" long enough to "receive" what he desires to reveal to us? We all probably need to do a better job of "winding down" on our complaining, and "focusing in on" our active listening skills. Since I don't think I am in this boat alone, I know I have others who are "rowing" just as hard as I am! Maybe it is time to put up the sail and let God do a little "directing" of our progress across this sea of confusion we are presently sailing through! Just sayin!

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