Yesterday, while I was in the grocery store, I was starkly reminded of how hard it can be to listen. I was pushing my daughter around the store, trying to grab everything that was on and was not on my list while also somehow avoiding hitting other shoppers with our mondo car shopping cart. And trying to accomplish all of this in time to get home to unpack everything and then pick up my son from preschool. The store was playing music, people were talking, workers were stocking the shelves, kids were making noises. Then all of the sudden, barely audible because of all the noise, a clerk came over the intercom and asked all the workers and shoppers to observe a moment of silence for September 11. It took me a second to process what the voice was saying and to stop walking down the aisle and turn off my headphones, an additional noise on top of everything else. The store music ceased. Other shoppers that heard the announcement stopped in their tracks.
The normally bustling grocery store was suddenly quiet, a unique, almost unsettling, scene. For perhaps 30 seconds, everyone participated in the moment of silence. Then the music came back on and everyone started going about their busy business again, with all the noise that went along with it.
Not everyone heard the announcement- perhaps because it was too noisy in the store or they thought it was another “commercial” from the grocery store or they simply didn’t listen/pay attention- and did not stop to observe the silence. Some did stop for the silence when they visually noticed the other shoppers not shopping and became aware of the lack of noise. But others continued to go about their way, unaware of the invitation and opportunity to engage in this solemn moment. In fact, I barely heard the announcement to be silent over the loudspeaker because of all the other noise going on around me and the noise that I myself was creating.
Listening to God can be difficult and requires discernment. We know what types of things to be listening for and the ways that God can speak to us: scripture, times of prayer, community, circumstances, Holy Spirit encounters. But more fundamentally, in order to “hear” or “see” any of these things an intentionality is needed; a posture of listening and watchfulness is assumed. How can we know what we are to do or what God is saying if we have not listened? If we have not taken the time and space to listen? If we have not removed our headphones? If we have not been watchful to the situation around us?
Taking time for silence is an opportunity for us to assume this posture of listening and watchfulness. We can be sure that God is speaking; He is living and active. He has given us His Holy Spirit to direct and comfort us. It is hard to hear, to be watchful, especially in our busy Washington D.C. pace of life. Join us for a time of listening to the Lord during “Be Still and Know,” a contemplative prayer night, on Wednesday, September 13 at 7:30 – 9:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary. Intercessors will be present to pray silently for you as you pray and seek the Lord. Bring your thoughts, bring your questions, bring your expectant heart to hear what the Lord might say to you.
O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people;
Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who
calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with
you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever
and ever. Amen.
Interested in learning more about listening to the Holy Spirit and pursuing a posture of listening? Ladies are welcome to join Rebecca Reck and Lauren Lessels’ small group on Fridays at 10 am in the Church for Priscilla Shirer’s “He Speaks to Me: Preparing to Hear from God” study.