Summer is for Listening

“My soul, wait silently for God alone; for my expectation is from Him.”

Psalm 62:5

“How slow many are to learn that quietness is blessing, that quietness is strength, that quietness is the source of the highest activity–the secret of all true abiding in Christ! Let us try to learn it and watch out for whatever interferes with it.  The dangers that threaten the soul’s rest are many.”  Andrew Murray, “Abiding in Christ”

      I suppose it is a foolishness to think things are quieter in the Summer–school is out and children romp and play outside my window, noise floats in as games are won and lost in the streets below our house. But Summer vacation also means less push and stress, less have-to and more want to. My want-to includes some quiet (er) time of listening to God in this season.

The push back is all the noise–even good “Christian” noise.

Don’t get me wrong but I think we (by “we” here I’m including myself) are quick to crank up the praise music before we spend time with our own words praising God in the silence. Bible studies and Christian living books are a way to learn, but sometimes I think we lean on them instead of the Holy Spirit to speak directly to us.  The internet is a 24/7 stream of everybody else’s opinions on what is godly, but it often draws us away from the Source–the voice of Jesus and God’s word.

Why not, instead, make this season a time of doing nothing, reading nothing (I know–sacrilege!) and just spend time listening and recording in a journal what you hear God say?

There might be revelation or resolution of an issue percolating below the surface that you’ve carried around and worried about for months. Years.  Perhaps there will be a healing touch from God’s Spirit, or simply a wonder-filled moment as you catch the joy of God in His creation.

To help you in the process, may I share some notes on the how-to of the process? These are taken from my session at our Glory Writers Abide Retreat in the Cascade Mountains last year. (I used the same notes for our church’s Women’s Retreat last May.)

Perhaps they will help you discover some glory of your own in God’s word to your heart.e80ce-viewfromthebackdeckjune2012

Notes on ‘Listening as a Spiritual Practice’, inspired by “God in the Yard”, L.L. Barkat, TSPoetry Press

Stop and make a space to listen 2-3 times a week, 20 or 30 minutes—start small  NOTE: Listening as a Spiritual Practice or Discipline is really about letting go & making room, more about absorbing & receiving from God than about my outcome or producing something. More being, less doing.

  • Examples of Spiritual Practice PERSONAL WORSHIP, PRAYER, praying in the Spirit, BIBLE READING
  • SIT where your eyes can be still, preferably outside with a view to something living; resting your eyes brings peace to your mind and soul and you can LISTEN BETTER
  • Don’t Read your Bible-this is not devotional time, it is time to listen…you can talk to Jesus, sing, but resist the temptation to DO SOMETHING; just WAIT
  • Remember: You have the Holy Spirit as your teacher and guide (Jn. 14:26)
    • If you ask God to speak, He will. If you ask Him to show you something, He will.
  • Here are some prompts for thought:
    • What is your deepest source of current pain, and how is God trying to meet you there?
    • Where are you finding joy with God?
    • What does the world around you say about God’s relation to you and your relation to Him?
    • Here’s what the Holy Spirit might do as you listen:
    • First, you’ll discover something—(see it—‘wow, I didn’t know I felt/knew that’!)
    • Then uncover it—(name it—‘oh, THAT’S what that is…’)
    • Then recover it—(live into it, like new skin) NOT fix it (as in patch it up)

      Don’t worry about what to do with your discoveries. Simply listen to what the sounds are telling you and offer them as an expression of truth to God then write them down.

      If you are not a person who keeps a journal, this might be a good time to start.

Writing down your story can bring healing to you and life to others. Our stories are a way for others to hear where God is meeting us now & where He has met us in the past, especially when we share them.

And most of all, when you look back over the entries, whether several weeks or several months or years, there is powerful encouragement of God’s faithfulness and care to you as His child.

      I hope you take the time to get away from the noise and ask Jesus to speak to you in way that’s like no other. He is so happy when we ask!

12 thoughts on “Summer is for Listening

  1. I thrive on silence but I struggle with a wandering mind, so I struggle with listening. Thanks for this encouragement to actively seek silence and use it well.

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  2. I’m disappointed in myself for not making time to sit outdoors and just listen. Thank you for this gentle nudging, Jody. I purchased “God in the Yard,” read it, and even bought a special journal for recording the discoveries God is ready–no, anxious–to share with me IF I will take the time. I had wanted to start in early spring, to revel in the resurrection of the landscape, week by week. Now we’re closing in on Independence Day! Gr-r-r-. OK–enough brow-beating. TONIGHT when the sun is off the deck I WILL get out there and listen!! Bottom line: I do desire to lean in to my Heavenly Father, to learn from him, yes, but also to enjoy him more intimately. I know that this spiritual practice is a means to accomplish just that.

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    1. Nancy, I hope you don’t mind me chiming in here. God in the Yard is a wonder. I worked/played through its pages over the last few months. And while you don’t need to go outside to engage the exercises, the book as well as Jody’s wisdom are wonderful reminders to give ourselves hushed moments under a tree, or flowering vine, with a glass of iced tea. Let’s do it this weekend! Game?

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      1. Laurie–I’m so glad you did chime in…your words are an encouragement.
        Nancy–all you need is a shady tree or a hat….early morning or midday–some ‘hushed moments’ as Laurie said, just to listen. God will meet you there!

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      1. As of today, July 5, I’ve been on the deck for three listening sessions so far. Delightful, each one! And I’m looking forward to more. Again, thank you for the introduction to L.L. Barkat and the practice of meeting “God in the Yard!”

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  3. Here’s to “quiet(er)” times ahead, this summer (perfect day to publish this!) and to the God-given rest that hushes our thoughts, acclimates us to stillness, and attunes us, gently, to God’s voice. I really like the “discover/uncover/recover” possibilities you describe. What a memorable way to phrase it. I want to live there!

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