By Roxanne Drury
Life is odd. It is sometimes filled with confusion and uncertainties. You never know for sure what’s coming. One day is fine — the birds are singing, the sun is shining and the kids aren’t fighting. The next day monsters come out from under the bed and out of the closet from all directions. The fridge breaks down, all four kids wake up with pink eye, so you need to stay home from work but have no vacation days left. But wait, it gets better. You have spent all your grocery money and don’t get paid for another five days. Stuff happens! Am I right?
Malcolm Muggeridge, a Christian scholar, made a statement that I sincerely value. He said, “Every happening, great and small, is a parable whereby God speaks to us, and the art of life is to get the message.”
The parables Jesus told are to help people understand an unfamiliar concept or idea. He painted vivid pictures with His words so the people could ‘figure it out.’ He used commonplace things to illustrate His point and help someone come to a conclusion.
At my current workplace, we have begun a study called Rooted. A recent study was on prayer. Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Sometimes we pray and pray seeking God, seeking an answer or clarity. We wait and wait and wait, perhaps thinking God is not really hearing our cry.
News flash! God does not send a text or an email with an answer. We play a part in getting an answer. Prayer is a two-way conversation. Our part is to stop, be silent, and listen. Pay attention to the “happenings, great and small” and find God speaking to you through them. In other words, ‘get the message’ He has for you. He really could answer you and guide you in so many different ways. But we have to be paying attention. We have to be listening. What are some of the ways God speaks to you? Think about that for a moment.
I believe it is an art to find and hear God in the things that happen. It takes practice. It takes being still, and that can be hard. Take it from the person who has to get up and do something during every single TV commercial. It is hard to sit still. But hear Psalm 46:10 – “Be still and know that I am God…”
God’s promise in Psalm 32:8 is, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” I learned the lesson of listening and paying attention many years ago and have never forgotten it. I was working in an office setting. I knew my time there was done, but it was comfortable. I was paid well, it was close to home, so for literally months I was asking God for direction — should I leave, should I stay, blah, blah, blah…
One Sunday I was sitting in church before service started and was praying again — God what should I do? I flipped open my Bible and immediately focused on these words found in Isaiah 46:12: “Listen to me, you stubborn-hearted, you who are far from righteousness.” LISTEN TO ME… Believe me, I got the message! Did you ever see a child place one hand on either side of his mom’s cheeks and turn her head so she was looking him right in the eyes? The child is saying, ‘Listen to me, Mom. Focus on me. I am trying to tell you something.’
That morning it was as if God placed a hand on either side of my face and turned my head in His direction. ‘LISTEN TO ME. FOCUS ON ME. I AM TRYING TO TELL YOU SOMETHING.’ I had not taken the time to listen or pay attention to the answer — my heart had been telling me to move on. I wasn’t listening to my heart. My family said to move on. I did not listen to them either. ‘Happenings great and small’ told me it was not the place for me to be. I failed to get the message even in all that. However God, because He is who He is, kept His promise and got my attention by calling me a “stubborn-hearted” fool. Listen to Me!
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” — Matthew 7:7
Once we learn to listen and pay attention, we have an amazingly perfect resource to find peace, contentment, understanding, direction, and clarity. He alone brings calm in all the chaos of life. However, we have to do our part, too: listen.
I would encourage you to get in a quiet place for a prayer time today. After you are finished praying, spend three minutes in the quiet and just listen. Perhaps write down what you hear from God. I suggest you begin to make this a daily practice. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at what you hear from God as you listen to Him.
Roxanne Drury is a wife, mother, grandmother, and retired Christian preschool teacher with a teaching certificate in Early Childhood Education. She has served the Lord in children’s ministry for over 40 years and is currently on staff at Rockharbor Church. Her heart is sharing the life application found in God’s Word. Roxanne has recently published her first children’s book titled, “Beyond the Blue.” The book is a descriptive biblical look at heaven that answers questions kids have and offers parents a tool to talk to their kids about Jesus. She also writes a Christian blog. For more information, visit thatslifemissroxanne.blogspot.com and www.roxannedrury.com.