Are We Listening?
Jan 19, 2021
I think the fact that (according to Pew Research, 2021) only 36% of Americans attend church regularly may be due to, as well as responsible for, our cultural disquiet. Faith may be wavering because people don't believe God is calling them, and they don't believe because they've never heard such a call.
Like Samuel, each of us is called, many times, but we don't always know it. The bible tells us repeatedly that God speaks softly in the stillness of our minds and hearts. God awoke Samuel from the stillness of his sleep. We live in a culture that abhors stillness. We prize busy-ness, productivity, multi-tasking, and being technologically connected to everything all the time. Is it any wonder, then, that many of us have never heard God’s soft, whispering voice? Our cultural “disquiet,” a word that, not coincidentally, is used to describe anxiety or distress, may be both the cause and effect of our inability to discern God's calling. God himself tells us to "Be still and know that I am."
Is our disquiet deliberate? Do we immerse ourselves in noise to avoid God? I don't think it is that calculated. I think the disquiet has developed gradually until we lost our collective recognition of the importance of stillness, and noise became the norm. I once spent a few days with a group of friends who turned on the radio and television as soon as we arrived and kept them on day and night. I found it hard to sleep. One evening, they all decided to go out to a busy place, but I chose to remain behind and read. The instant they left, I turned off all the noise, and, to my surprise, I began to cry. It was only then that I became consciously aware of the disquiet that had taken hold of me. I embraced the silence and felt refreshed when my friends returned and the television and radio began blaring again.
God has gifted us with the Sabbath, an oasis in the busy-ness of life, an opportunity to turn off the noise, embrace the stillness, and be with our Lord. We often use that gift, however, not to spend time with God, but to immerse ourselves in noise and action simply to get more done. What if we took Eli’s advice to Samuel and waited in stillness for God’s call? How might that change each of us and in turn change our culture and the world?
Let this be our stewardship prayer: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”