Healing the Heart through "Listening"
Last updated 9/2/2021 at 5:17pm
I'm the type of person who really must concentrate when it comes to listening to others. Even though I do the work of a pastor, it's still a challenge to me. Even when I'm sitting in church listening to another pastor preach or when I'm at a special function, like a graduation ceremony, or wedding, it's hard for me to sit and just listen. As I'm completing my doctoral studies, part of my research is to interview 30 Cree Christians. This too is a challenge for me-to stop myself from telling my story and allow the other person to be the main person talking.
One of the prophets in the Old Testament was named Samuel. When he was a boy, he heard God speaking to him. Samuel was hearing a voice calling his name. Finally, following the advice of Eli, Samuel said back to the voice, "Lord, your servant is listening." The message to Samuel had to do with Israel receiving judgment, because of Eli's ungodly sons and Eli not stopping them from doing evil. This message was given because this was during those times God spoke through prophets and visions.
Recently, I felt God impress upon my heart to spend more time listening to God, rather than always rattling off my requests. At the time I am writing this column, I'm doing it over the course of a week, because I've decided that this week, when I'm feeling overwhelmed by any given situation, that I'll just be quiet and listen.
When we look at Psalm 31, we see the psalmist saying that God had calmed and quieted his heart like a weaned child. Proverbs 18 says that we are to listen before giving an answer. When we look at the New Testament, in the letter James wrote, we see that we are to be quick to listen and slow to become angry. When we look at the Old Testament, in Psalms, in Proverbs, and the New Testament, a variety of situations tell us to listen more and talk less.
It was a challenge for me to just listen when focusing on God. It was very hard to just say nothing. Some days I would try to listen but found myself wanting to say at least something. Something like, "You know my needs and passions Lord, so help me to listen today," or "You know what my prayer list is and what's going on with my daughter, myself and my family members, help me to listen." It was a conscious and deliberate effort to say as little as possible.
It revealed to me that it all comes down to trusting the Creator of the universe with my life. God the Father had a Son named Jesus, who was part of the creation of the universe, and Jesus left the Holy Spirit as a deposit on what was to come. This deposit comforts us, guides us, directs us, empowers us, fills us and will never leave us. This Holy Spirit is working in the background of our lives. The Spirit never needs to rest. This Spirit never runs out of resources and never is exhausted. This deposit is a mere taste of what is to come, when our lives are over and throughout all eternity.
When we enter a time of listening, this allows God to take all the credit because He is sovereign and always in control. Listening allows the spiritual riches of Jesus to be made more visible in our minds and hearts. These riches are already there, which we will find as we listen. Listening allows the Spirit to work things out, in ways that we could never do. Listening slows down my complaining. Listening slows me down when I'm tempted to rattle off my prayer list. Listening slows down my need to feel that I can control certain situations and circumstances.
Listening allows my heart to heal that much more from the things in life that create strife, trauma and hurt. Listening more than talking slows things down in my conscious and sub-conscious mind, heart, soul and spirit. Listening allows God through Jesus and the Holy Spirit to heal my hurting heart.
How about you? Are you listening to His voice?
Parry Stelter is a doctoral candidate with Providence University and Seminary in Contextual Leadership. He is an active member of his home church in Stony Plain, AB, Canada. He also offers workshop on dealing with grief, loss and intergenerational trauma, amongst other workshops. Visit his website at wordofhopeministries.ca to learn more about this ministry and all the resources