It’s much easier to talk than listen, and I’ve talked more than I’ve listened throughout my life. The need to fill empty space and the fear of what I will hear are at the root of my chattering. There was a doll named Chatty Cathy when I was young, and I ended up with the nickname myself because of my constant babbling. I noticed a difference in my praying this week as I stopped talking and heard God’s voice in the space I left unfilled.
For Lent this year, I decided to give up space to God. I was having a hard time being still until I came to the place of not knowing what to say this week. It wasn’t the same as being dumbfounded; I’ve been there many times. This was coming to a place of decision and not knowing what to do or say. When lost, it’s much easier to listen to directions. As I heard God saying what He’s been saying for a long while, I knew He would let me continue down my path if I wanted. He certainly knows I do that most of the time. I also knew that I was tired and lost and ready to hear and obey.
It’s easier to talk when it comes to praying for the same reason it’s easier to talk period. If I talk, I won’t run the risk of hearing what I don’t want to hear. If I talk, I might convince myself that my path is the right one. If I talk eloquently enough, I might just convince God. Well, that’s as silly as it sounds and never works. He’s been so patient with me, and I thank Him for letting me come to a place of obedience on my own. It’s the only way to obey. God and I both know that. God never forces me to love Him or obey Him because He knows that isn’t true love or obedience.
It’s easier to have someone tell you what to do, believe, be, etc. The trouble with being told or forced is that I get wistful and wonder what if? That leads to bitterness and then anger. When I decide for myself, I get heartbroken and hurt. That leads to brokenness and openness and enables me to grow and move on as God desires. The tears give way to resignation, and resignation turns to faith as I forget my own desires and understand He knows best. “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17 NASB)
Christ’s bids me to be like a child, and I’ve certainly felt like a contrite child this week as I have struggled to convince God I’m right. When I got finished talking and didn’t know what else to say, He quietly said what He’s said over and over again. This time, I listened, trusted, and obeyed. It’s hard to leave the known and step into the unknown, but it’s even harder trying to convince God I know better than He does when it comes to my heart. The good news is that when I obey, I feel a peace that is indescribable. It eases the pain and makes listening a little easier the next time I am lost.
It’s easier to talk than to listen. It’s easier to listen than to trust. It’s easier to trust than to obey, but it’s best to remember that God knows what He’s doing and obey in the first place. Maybe one day, I’ll take that advice to heart and use it myself:)