The phone rings. As per usual you check the caller ID. It’s Aunt Margaret! Should I pick up the call? She’s been such an important part of my life, but — do I have time to listen to her? We do not have a conversation. It’s a monologue. Aunt Margaret does all the talking!
Do you know someone like Aunt Margaret? Do you have relatives or friends who call you and just talk, talk, talk? Do you feel like you could put the phone down and come back in 30 minutes and the person would still be talking?
We’ve all been there, haven’t we? We all know someone like Aunt Margaret.
How do you deal with the Aunt Margarets in your life? Do you take the call and try to provide a listening ear? Or do you more often let the call go to voicemail and let the person leave a message? Do you call back?
Do you have a daily prayer time? How is that time filled? Do you offer a continuous stream of requests and concerns to God – or do you take time to pause, to listen in silence to hear God’s response? Has God responded to you during that silent time? Have you felt God’s presence, God’s communication to you?
Often when I talk to someone about their prayer life, I ask them if they have a silent time during their prayer time to listen for God. Not everyone does. When I mention to someone that God gave me an idea for a sermon or led me in a particular direction or showed me another way to view a difficult situation, I often find that the person I’m talking to can’t relate to my experience. That individual has not heard God’s voice or felt God’s nudging.
If you can identify with those who haven’t felt God’s nudging, then you are not alone. Recently I listened to a lecture from a well-know church consultant who related a story about leading a group through a discernment process where the group was trying to discern God’s will for the church. When approached by a gentleman during the discernment time, the consultant was informed that the man could not relate to the process. Upon further discussion, the consultant determined that this gentleman was used to collecting the facts and then making a decision based on the facts collected. He had not allowed for the thought that God would relate to the church’s future.
This gentleman charged forward in his church’s discernment process. He didn’t stop to listen to others or God. Can you imagine his prayer time? “God, this is what I want.”
Let me urge you to take time for silence each day to listen to God. I admit that this is not easy. Some days my mind is running a thousand miles per hour and I cannot seem to throttle it back. Other days I can be silent and listen. But I do try each day to take time to listen for God.
I have a friend whose name is not Aunt Margaret. But she talks and talks when she calls. And I do answer the phone and listen. Why? That’s what God does for me on the days I can’t seem to quiet myself enough to allow God to get in a word edgewise.
The Presbytery will be making some major decisions in the next several months that will affect the Presbytery’s future and the future of the Presbytery churches and new worshiping communities. As we consider the future, I pray that all of us will take time to listen for God’s voice, for God’s nudging.