I like ears. I have a slight obsession with keeping mine clean, and I like to look at my loved one's ears (I'm sorry Tim). Don't worry, I keep this obsession limited to my little siblings and my husband. Enough of my ear eccentricities.
It is interesting how the ear is connected to the mind.... physically my ears are always open, and at times they seem closed as ever.... because I am not listening.
I have always practiced selective listening skills. In the past I have been very successful at tuning out loud children, music, roommates, teachers, and pastors. I get caught up in my own little world of thoughts, dreams, and study.... what have I missed out on?
I know that I have missed out on conversations with my little sisters, whose sweet little voices I simply responded to with a "Mhmm, did you ask Mom?" or "That's good," or something of that sort. I have missed out on great sermons, I notice this when everyone has come out of church with something to say but me. Recently I was in church and I caught myself thinking for several minutes about.... bicycles. How lame is that?
If you have ever been in a conversation with me, and I asked you to repeat what you just said, this is my public apology. I'm sorry that I didn't listen to you. Please forgive me.
Unfortunately, I know that this listening problem has been all over my relationship with God. I have prayed so many times without listening to Him. I have rarely asked Him to speak, and it is even more rare that I wait to hear Him, for more than a minute or two. How depressing a conversation that must be to hear twenty "Please's" and five "Thank you's" and call it a day.
I write my prayers in a journal, and this can make it all too easy to have a one-way conversation with God. A couple times now, I have prayed differently. I stop midway and ask the Lord to speak to me... and then write down the things that come into my head. It has been both affirming and convicting. And I feel like it has brought me closer to God during the few times I have done it.
I'm going to try and practice this more often, this intentional listening. I know that it has benefited my relationships on earth.... and I have already seen it deepen my relationship with God.
If you are feeling a little distant from Him right now, try listening to Him.
If this makes you nervous, or you are worried about practicing this kind of listening with God, I understand. I worry that I am just going to make up stuff that I want to hear. The good thing is, by writing them down, you can weigh their truth. If you wrote something down after listening that is contrary to what is in God's word, it is probably safe to say you didn't hear Him say that to you.
It isn't always easy to be a good listener, but in a relationship, it can make all the difference.