The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”—1st Kings 19:11
I often tell people that I run my mouth for a living. I’m only half kidding when I say it. I’m often asked to present, explain, answer questions, chit-chat, or otherwise talk. I’ve been told I’m well suited to this. I’ve also been told that I may be too well suited. My grandfather loved to quote John Wayne to me. He’d say, “Boy, you're short on ears and long on mouth.” This was his way of telling me to be quiet. It took me a long time to understand that, probably because I was talking when he said it.
Fast forward a few decades, and I discovered that verbosity might be genetic. I have a daughter and a granddaughter who can start a sentence first thing in the morning and finish their point on Tuesday. All that talking—all those words—may or may not be useful, but what they aren’t is “quiet”.
Another thing I learned after all these years is that my grandfather was quoting the Duke, but that John Wayne was quoting Zeno (by way of Diogenes—that’s a fourth level reference for you) who coined the old saw, “The reason why we have two ears and only one mouth is so we might listen more and talk less.”
Listening is important. One might say it is MORE important than talking. Listening is the skill that allows us to really understand others. It forces us out of ourselves and into someone else’s experience. Good listeners make other people feel important, understood, and accepted. If only listening were easy. You see, it’s not enough to not talk while some one else is talking, you actually have to focus and process what they are saying. What most of us do in a conversation is not listen, but merely pause talking so someone else can take a turn.
The Austrian pianist, Alfred Brendel, reminds us that, “The word 'listen' contains the same letters as the word 'silent'.” In order to listen—to really listen—we have to become silent: with our mouth, sure, but also in our mind. We need to stop the noise in order to really understand someone.
This relationship advice works just as well when we apply it to God. We’ve been learning how to hear God, but if we’re going to find answers; if we’re going to find direction; if we’re going to understand His will, we must listen to what He is telling us. This week I urge you—in your prayer time and as you go about your day—stop the noise, seek mental and physical silence, and listen. God is speaking to you.