When thinking about what listening to God means to me, an acrostic came to mind. To listen to God means that I:
L ive loved
I ncrease Knowledge of God
S tay Surrendered to God
T rust God
E radicate Sin
N urture Balance
Living loved is one of the most important things we do as Christians and always includes accepting Jesus' work on the cross. If we don't receive the great love he has for us daily we are unable to obey the two greatest commandments--to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, with all of your mind, and with all of your strength and to love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:29-31). Jesus followed these commands with the statement, "All the law and the Prophets hang on these two commands." In others words, if we live loved and allow our love for God and others to permeate all that we do, things will work out for our ultimate good (see Romans 8:28 for this promise).
Increasing our knowledge does not mean we have a goal to expand our head knowledge. By increasing our knowledge, I mean to stay in the Bible continually. When we regularly spend time alone with God in his word, our listening skills are honed naturally. Book smarts are but a by-product of our time spent alone with God. The real benefit comes from the fact that the more we know about God, the more our faith grows.
Staying surrendered to God takes the most effort on our part. The sin nature that lives in us demands to be in charge. In turn, complete surrender requires a conscious decision (sometimes moment by moment) to believe God's promises and take him at his word.
Trusting God. Those two little words are a loaded statement. Talk about things that make you go, "Hmmmm." Every difficulty I face I hear God whispering in my ear, "Trust me." Will I trust God with my problems? With my life? Or will I stubbornly march on attempting to fix my kids, my alcoholic brother, my health, and so forth in my own power? Oh Lord, save me from myself. Trusting you is the only way to make it through life challenges sane.
Eradicate Sin. I like this word eradicate. It means: to tear out by the roots, uproot; to get rid of; wipe out; destroy. After many years of listening, I have learned I must get to the root of sin before I can tear it out. Even though new roots of sin grow and will continue to grow until I get to heaven and receive my new body, I destroy them as they pop up with serious prayer while asking God questions like: "Why do I do the crazy things I do?" "Why do I react to ____ (insert person or thing here) in that way?" "Why do I repeat the same actions when I know it hurts me?" God's answers bring healing as each sin is eradicated.
Nurture Balance. A state of equilibrium, balance is the result of the power and ability to decide. As a woman, I struggle with the ability to decide which causes my spiritual and emotional equilibrium to get out of whack. My most effective way back to the center comes when I meditate on 2 Corinthians 10:9. When I take the time and effort to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ I nurture balance. For instance, when I call myself stupid when I fail, I correct myself by remembering, "To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy-to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen" (Jude 24-25).
Jude 24-25 says it all, doesn't it? May we continue to L-I-S-T-E-N to God and receive all that he has in store for us. Amen.
Photo by ninakupenda81 courtesy of flickr.com