I suppose you could call it ironic. Or maybe just sad.
A great portion of my professional work every day is being a good listener. If I am going to have any reasonable hope of helping my clients, I have to listen carefully. Listen to their words. Listen to the emotion behind the words. Listen to the messages of their non-verbal communication. Listen to the layers of context upon and within which their present lives are built.
Put very simply, there are two beneficial outcomes of listening carefully to my clients as they share their hearts in session with me. When I am clearly hearing what is going on with them, I am much more capable of offering them meaningful guidance that can make a genuine difference in their lives. Not only that, but sometimes the simple, profound act of listening attentively and compassionately offers its own measure of hope and healing to those who are pouring out their hearts.
As a Christian counselor, I also believe wholeheartedly that I must listen for the voice of the Spirit of God as I interact with and listen to my clients. All of my skills at their fullest and sharpest will have little to offer beyond temporary relief, if I am not allowing my spirit to be led by the Holy Spirit.
And the truth is, I generally do all of the above listening quite well.
But out of “session” is another story. I am so easily distracted by the noises of life, and I tend to give so little time and effort to intentionally listening for the powerful, ever-present voice of my Lord. God has been lovingly refining me in a very focused way during this year’s season of Lent. He began by calling me to lay aside the distraction and pride-trap of Facebook. He has been calling me to grow in humility and discipline, leading me to a daily regimen of very meaningful prayers that have been gently penetrating and fertilizing my heart. And this morning I realized He is calling me to listen.
Listen to Him.
Listen to His still small voice.
Listen to His rock-solid truth spoken in unfathomable love.
Listen to His gentle encouragement and affirmation.
Listen to His firm corrective call to discipline.
Listen to His heartbeat of life.
I was painfully amazed at how difficult it was for me to turn off all the distractions and fix my heart on the Biblical letter of Philippians in the quiet of my home this morning. I did light a WoodWick candle to offer just a touch of organic sound and scent to the empty space where I met with my Maker for some life instruction. And Father decided to add his own sprinkle of life to the mix by sending some songbirds to share their melodies with me for a few minutes. I have been gently thunderstruck by the richness of both the silence and the sounds of this morning.
And as I listened for His heart, these amazing words penetrated me with a hope that I cannot fully articulate:
“Keep on working to complete your salvation with fear and trembling, because God is working in you to help you want to do and be able to do what pleases him.” – Philippians 2:12b-13