I think it was last Sunday, or the Sunday before that we sang this song in church, "I am a friend of God...He calls me friend." I'm not sure what God gets out of my friendship but I do know what I'm learning about God in these years that He's been not only my Savior and Lord but the truest of friends. I've learned that God is an incredible listener. I don't know how he does it.
I'm not a very good listener. Ask my family, ask my good friend Mu, ask my dog, Harry. I mean, when I scratch Harry's ears and murmur, "You're such a good dog, aren't you. What a good boy. (Lots of crooning noises) You're Mommy's baby," I haven't let him get a word in all that time. Fortunately for Harry he doesn't communicate in words. He uses his paws in a form of sign language. He flips his water bowl when its empty and lets it clang loudly on the floor. He covers his eyes with his paws and lies there sighing like a model who has had a hard day with all the posing and preening for the camera. He comes up to me and places a paw on my lap while I'm writing, and then digs it in a bit if I fail to notice him- this is his way of saying he needs to go out.
You would think that after all these years of walking with God and Him listening to my prayers that I would have learned to be a better listener. But part of my problem is that I still struggle with this fear that God is not really listening to me but putting up with my ranting and droning on and on. How could He handle listening to the plethora of pleas that I bring before Him constantly?It would be enough to drive a person mad. But God is not troubled by all the listening He does. He is a listener. He designed the concept of listening.
One thing that gives me hope that He really does hear me is the promise that is articulated in 1 John, "This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us .And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him" (1 John 5:14,15). Knowing that God hears me when I'm asking for help, asking for His perspective on my problem, makes me breathe easier. Knowing for sure that what I released to Him with a big sigh, and maybe a tear once in a while, is safe with Him, heard by Him, kept by Him- that makes me want to talk to Him more. The thing is, after I share something with God, He wants to share with me. He's got something for me to hear, and not just hear with my ears, but with my heart so that I take it in, feast on it, and make that truth concrete in my life. So I have to learn to listen better.
I intend to. I try. Here's what my "listening" times with God look like. Usually they occur early in the morning. My hair tufts up in the back, my eyes are baggy, I feel saggy, and I'm wearing my favorite blue toile flannel pajama top with mismatched bottoms. My husband says I look like a piece of old drapery. The coffee is in my hand, and the problems I'm ready to share with God are on my lips. This is my meeting with God. He asked for it. He said He could handle it. And every time I think, No,Lord- you really don't mean that, you couldn't possibly mean that, because I'm feeling like a wreck and I'm about to pour it all out- He interrupts my ranting and raving thoughts with His prompt of, Just Try Me on this.
The more I believe Him, and the more I share with Him, the more quiet I get....after a while. I settle down. I become responsive to His spirit, but only after I take Him at His word that He cares enough to listen to me, that He wants me to Call Upon Him in the Day of Trouble, that He wants me to Ask, Seek, and Find what I need. It's never anything new that I come away with. It's always the amazing thought that the God of the universe sat down with me, unpaid, without me making a formal appointment years in advance, with millions and millions of other people calling out for Him at the same time- yes, He lavished His heart on me enough so that He listened when I laid it all out in words...and even with words that I did not speak out loud.
(For more thoughts about Listening, you might like reading Virelle Kidder's book, Donkeys Still Talk: Hearing God's Voice When You're Not Listening)