41. LISTEN FOR GOD
People who say they “talk to God” are often regarded with more than a bit of skepticism. But the truth is that all people talk to God on occasion whether they believe He’s there or not. Universally, people cry out for help in desperate situations, even when they know no human ear can hear them. That’s the innate call of their hearts, the default switch of automatic prayer that all humans are designed with to help guide them home to God’s throne.Yes, people who talk to God are really quite common. However, those who listen to Him are not. One reason is that God’s voice isn’t always easy to hear. Unless you’re actively listening for Him, you may come to the conclusion that He is silent - or not even there at all. To better attune your hearts to His whisper, become acquainted with His words in the Bible. The more familiar you are with His words, the easier you’ll find it is to distinguish His voice from your own random thoughts.Also, get in the habit of listening for God’s response when you speak to Him. Don’t just ramble off a laundry list of what you want Him to do for you, slap on an “amen,” and then go on to the next chore on your to-do list. Think about whom you are speaking to. Pray that what He wants would be done. Ask God to help you hear His voice more clearly. Then, sit quietly and listen for His response.When you do feel His words of truth echo through your heart, when you believe He’s whispering the direction in which he wants you to go or what altercations He wants you to make in your life, act on what you hear. You’ll begin to see positive change taking place. On the other hand, if you are not seeing signs of improvement, you’re obviously having a very one-sided conversation. But don’t be discouraged. The more you listen for and respond to God’s voice here on earth, the more acquainted you’ll become with the sound of heaven.
First, I want to share the first time I really received a sign from God. It was a time where I wanted to quit being the Sunday School principal and I just hated everything. I felt unappreciated, frustrated, and tired. But then I helped out at a retreat and we did a Lectio Divina. Which is when you read a scripture passage, meditate on it, underline whatever stands out to you, pray about it and contemplate God. When we first started this activity as a group, I tried to focus on the theme (because it came from the passage) so I can try to relate it to the students in my group and so I can better lead them in discussion. I can’t really explain what happened next. I kind of blanked out, maybe I was tired, but when it was time to underline phrases and words that stuck out to you, I just underlined the first things that came to mind. And then we were told to pray. I prayed about the retreat I was at and prayed for some patience and wisdom so I can enlighten the students in my group. Then the lector told us to meditate on the words we underlined. I looked over at my booklet and read the phrases I underlined. I couldn’t believe it.
Brothers, even if a person is caught in some transgression, you who are spiritual should correct that one in a gentle spirit, looking to yourself, so that you also may not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he is deluding himself. Each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason to boast with regard to himself alone, and not with regard to someone else; for each will bear his own load.
One who is being instructed in the word should share all good things with his instructor. Make no mistake: God is not mocked, for a person will reap only what he sows, because the one who sows for his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows for the spirit will reap eternal life from the spirit. Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up. So then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all, but especially to those who belong to the family of the faith.
I still love this story. It happened about a year and a half ago, but I always remember this. After this event, I was able to hear God speak to me more regularly. He helped me keep going as principal, sent me friends who motivated me and showed me his love, and he taught me to not give up.
Lately, I feel that I need a message from him more than ever. Maybe I haven’t received one since I haven’t spoken to him in a while either… but things are getting hard again. I am not one who prays just for things I want and feel like I need at the moment. The way I pray is mostly in thanksgiving. Everyday, I write in a journal of the things I am most thankful for and moments that I experience and see God’s love. But now… I need help again for I have reached another crossroad.
These days, instead of stressing and questioning my service to church I am questioning myself. I never understood why some people were so seemingly unsupportive of my decision to be principal or do camp or spend all my time doing church things. But I think I get it now. I have started to feel that I am nothing without my church service. I’m not saying I don’t want to have a relationship with God or belong to a community, but I am starting to realize that I can still do and have that among other things. But those “other things” are unknown to me.
I have no other hobbies. I have nothing to offer anyone or any group outside of the Catholic community. I am not a good enough leader and person to help the volunteers I work with. I still want to make a long lasting impression and be a community leader. I will never stop working to be that person but I also have started to feel the empty space in my life that needs to be for me. I just don’t know where to start.
Even more so… I don’t know if I can stop what I’m doing right now. I don’t know if it’s because I’m scared or if it’s because I don’t want to give up.
I hope I can stop worrying and just listen.