We are constantly bombarded by voices. Those around us in the world – family, well meaning friends, random strangers who feel the need to tell you what they think – and those that live inside our heads. But which voice do you listen to? Is it always the same one that seems to drown out all the others? Is it the ‘right’ voice? How do you know which one(s) you should listen to? How do you shut out all the noise?
A few years ago I took a sabbatical from my corporate career for 18 months. My only goal during this time was to rest and to learn to be still so I could hear God’s voice more clearly. Now I know that some of you are thinking “Seriously? How hard is it to be still? Stay in your pajamas, veg on the couch all day and binge on Netflix. Not that hard, Melissa.” But if you know me, you know that’s not how I’m wired. I might be able to do that for a day (okay, who am I kidding, maybe half a day) but then I’d need to DO something. As a child, I was in constant motion. So much so that my mother used to refer to me as her hummingbird because it seemed I was always doing 8 things at once. That trait served me well in my corporate life. Not sure what to do with something? Give it to Melissa, she’ll find time and figure it out. It also burnt me out more than once. So in this season of rest, I was on a mission to figure out what true stillness looked like so my ears would be better tuned to hearing God.
For 18 months, I woke early each morning, went for a run, had breakfast and my bible study time. And then I asked “what is my task today Lord?”…. and I waited… Some days it was immediately apparent what God wanted me to do that day. Other days, not so much. But what I did learn over that time was that it’s hard to be truly still. Try it… sit quietly for just 5 minutes. No thinking about what you’re going to make for dinner, no making mental to-do lists, no singing a song you just heard on the radio, no counting to pass the time. Just sit and turn your focus singularly on hearing the silence, or the birds chirping or your dog snoring (welcome to my house). And after you’ve cleared all the ‘junk’ out of your head, ask Him what you are to take away from the day. It can be ‘what is it that You want me to know today Lord?’ or ‘what do I need to open my eyes to see more clearly through Your eyes today?’. And don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear or sense a response. Many days you won’t, but I’m willing to bet you will still find a joy in the stillness simply knowing He is there with you always.
One other hint that I learned from my sabbatical time is that it helps to find a special place to get still. A favorite chair, the swing on the front porch, the peak of a mountaintop or strolling through the local park are some favorites of mine. Where is your favorite spot to find stillness?
In the coming months, we’ll explore this concept more deeply and talk about how to amplify or quiet certain voices, hearing the voice of God and keeping those pesky negative voices at bay. Be sure to subscribe on our website to be notified about future posts!