Listening (An Advent Challenge)
It’s not actually Christmas yet. Even though I keep peeking into my stocking.
It’s Advent. That means “coming.” A time of getting ready for the birth of our King. Mary is in her third trimester. The donkey has a full tank of gas.
If we’re serious about it, it’s roll out the red carpet time—anticipation and preparation for the arrival of royalty.
But an essential—yet neglected—part of getting ready in Advent is listening.
To. For. God.
Slow down. Let go. Make space. Hear. Open ears and an attentive spirit turned upward.
I know it’s hard. Long lines at the store, house cleaning, perfect gift-getting. And even the busyness of church activities can get in the way if we’re not careful. Get in the way of… listening.
Fred Craddock was visiting someone who lived next to an oil field. And right beside the house was something he called the “big pump”—the pump that kept the smaller pumps going. “Ch ch ch ch ch.” It was so loud he couldn’t sleep. He was virtually bouncing off his bed from the vibrations.
In the morning his hostess asked him, “Did you sleep well?” “Well, no, no I didn’t.” “Well, what was the matter?” He said, “The pump!” And she said, “Oh, I forgot about the pump. We never hear the pump until it stops.”
We don’t even realize. The hum that can deafen us to the voice. The Voice.
Not only are we busy, but we hear a multiplicity of small-v voices chiming in to our lives—people giving advice. Friends. Dr. Phil. The minister. Family. The internal “you can’t do it.” The radio host. “Ch ch ch ch ch.”
No wonder it’s hard to hear God’s voice in our particular situation.
We’ve forgotten how to listen.
Here’s the thing: You hear the voice you make time to know.
On Sunday during my message I gave a challenge to the congregation. In your preparation for Christmas, chisel out time to read the sermon on the mount. Think on it. It’s Matthew’s Gospel chapters 5 to 7. If you have a “red letter” edition of the Bible, it’s scarlet all the way through.
It’s an unparalleled haven of Jesus’ teachings. The Voice. If we don’t take time to know it, we will continually be lured away by lesser voices. By wolves. (See John 10)
Do you ever feel the disconnect? Like God is on one side the Grand Canyon speaking and you are way over on the other side wondering why everything is so fuzzy? There can be a disconnect, like that old game of Telephone we played when we were kids. By the time it gets to you the original message is so perverted that you can’t help but laugh at how foolish you seem.
The reconnect, so that we hear the Voice speaking more clearly and with more frequency in our lives, are the teachings of Jesus.
What would you rather have? Distortion or direction?
Take the Advent Challenge: The sermon on the mount.
You hear the voice you make time to know.