Slow Down and Listen to God
Are you facing a major decision in the next 6 months—a decision that will significantly impact the course of your life? For example, if you are a teenager, you may be considering college or, perhaps, joining the military, or taking a year off to travel, or do ministry. If you choose college, which college should you go to? Should you start off in a community college or should you pursue a four-year degree? How much debt should you take on? When you go to college, what should your major be? Perhaps you already have a Bachelor’s degree and are wondering whether you ought to enroll in a Master’s program, or pursue your doctorate.
Maybe the important decision in your life concerns ministry. Is God calling you to take a short-term mission trip? Is God calling you to longer-term missions? Should you start a small group? Perhaps, for a few of you, God is speaking about church planting. Where should you plant? When should you plant?
Or maybe you are applying for jobs, or thinking about leaving your current employment because you are unhappy. Some of you may be deciding whether or not to purchase a home, or to build a home. Which home should you buy? What neighborhood should you choose?
Should you get married? Whom should you marry? Should you have a child? Should you have another child? Maybe you’re in a situation where there are medical risks if you have a child. Should you try anyway? Perhaps your life-changing decision concerns bringing a foster child into your home or choosing to adopt a child.
And certainly it is not just young adults who are facing major decisions that may significantly impact the course of their lives. If you are middle-aged perhaps you are wondering about how to raise a teenager who is going through a difficult time. Or you have a 20-something
who is really struggling. Maybe you are single and it appears that you need to plan for being single for an extended period. Is it time for you to buy a home and to plan for your financial future without having a spouse to help shoulder the burden?
If you’re older and facing retirement, or you are retired, how should you spend your retirement time? Should you get involved with a particular volunteer opportunity, or a particular ministry? Some of you may be facing the possibility of running for office or being involved in politics in a significant way. Should you do that?
For those of us who are followers of Christ, we believe that we shouldn’t make important life decisions independently. When followers of Christ try to make decisions, we earnestly want to hear what God thinks about what we’re doing. After all, we believe that God is awfully smart! He knows us. He knows what we need and what will bless our lives. God knows the future. He knows the other people with whom we’re thinking of becoming involved. God knows everything that’s coming down the road. He knows what our health will be like. So, for the person who believes in God and has a relationship with him, the most sensible thing in the world is to try to figure out what God thinks before we make a life-changing decision.
The greatest obstacle to hearing God’s voice in the 21st century is simply busyness. We Americans live overstuffed, over filled, over-stimulated lives. We eat too much. We shop too much. We own too much. We watch too much TV and spend too much time online. We cram too much into our houses and into our schedules. If we were to be honest with ourselves, we would say that there is simply no room in our lives for the voice of God. We are, as a culture, addicted to busyness. It’s no wonder we struggle to hear God’s voice concerning our future.
Everyone multi-tasks. Just look at what people do in the cars next to you on the highway. Here we are hurtling down the highway at 75+ mph in a 3000-4000 pound car and what are we doing? We are talking on our cell phones. A woman is putting on mascara in her rearview mirror. Someone else is texting.
One day—true story—my wife, Marlene, and I were driving on I-270 on the north side of town. I was in the passenger seat—watching people pass by us in their cars. I noticed that every single driver that drove by us was doing something in addition to driving. I said to Marlene: “Look, he’s on his cell phone. Look at her. She is putting on lipstick now in her rearview mirror. He’s drinking coffee.” Then I shouted: “Look at that!” Driving next to us was a woman who had a bowl of cereal on her steering wheel and she was eating the bowl of cereal while driving 75 mph! She was flying by us and she was eating a bowl of cereal with a spoon, steering the car with the bottom of her bowl of cereal. You are not going to hear the voice of God very well when you are driving 75 mph steering your car with a bowl of cereal, and trying not to dump your cereal onto your lap.
Our first calling as followers of Christ is fellowship with Christ. Our first calling is not activity for Christ. Our first calling—your first calling is fellowship with Jesus Christ. We do and do, and then we burn out. We hit a wall. We try a million things to succeed in life, to succeed in our parenting, to succeed in our relationships, to succeed in ministry, instead of simply taking the time to listen to God.
If you need to hear from God, if you are frustrated, if you have an important decision to make and you need wisdom, why not slow the rpm’s down long enough to listen for God’s voice? Ask God, “What do you have for me? What’s your plan for my life? How should I think about the future?” The Lord really is smarter than you and me. God is infinitely more creative than we are in coming up with solutions. He sees what we cannot see. He can see around the curve. He knows the future. He knows the consequences of our decisions. He sees the heart. He sees below the surface. God sees what we cannot see. He has answers for your life, especially when you are at a crossroads.
Take time to slow down this summer! In an unhurried way, ask God what he thinks about a decision you are facing. Take time to listen in your heart for the voice of God!