"Do now, do now, what you will wish to have done when your moment comes to die." [St. Angela Merici]

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Up Close and Oh, So Personal

By Micky Wolf

My beloved recently mentioned it might be a good idea to invest a couple of dollars in a set of better quality ear buds for my MP3 player. Having the technical expertise, he volunteered to make the purchase, which was fine with me. 

A couple of days later it was time to head for the afternoon workout on the treadmill. With heart rate up and a cacophony of notes resonating ear to ear, away I went. Wow, what a difference!  Although my surroundings did not disappear, the proximity of notes and songs enveloped me. It was as if I was melting into them. I felt peace, joy, and contentment.  Then it occurred to me—what if we were just as plugged in to the sounds and still small voice of our Good God? And secondly, is it even realistic to have this kind of ongoing connectedness?

The short answer to the both questions is yes: moment by moment, day in and day out, we can remain plugged in to God—to His voice, the stirrings of His heart, the whispers of His Love. There are, however, some important things to consider, if we hope to keep the connection open and fruitful:

Plugging in to the player—or to God—can be a deeply powerful experience. Yet, there is a time and place for using an MP3 player; certainly not a good choice while driving, operating heavy machinery, or attempting to communicate in any meaningful way with another person. 

Similarly, there are occasions when doing our part to connect with God—praying, going on retreat, studying Scripture or taking time for contemplation—will be MP3 moments of focused attention, proximity, and intensity. At the same time, it would be unrealistic to expect this state of being to exist without interruption. God does not desire us to be so heavenly focused we can be of little use as His vessels while here on earth.

Plugging in to the player—or to God—is a choice. It is also a choice for where to set the volume. It can be loud enough to pretty much block any other sound or it can be low enough to allow for the sounds of the surrounding environment.

God, on the other hand, cannot be manipulated or moved around the way we can adjust the levels of the player. He knows best how to get our attention. At times, His ‘volume’ may seem turned to full, at other times, barely a whisper. Either way, we need to stay connected and trust Him, regardless of whether or not our ears might be ringing a bit, or struggling to pick up a note or two.

Plugging in to God’s still small voice serves many purposes, not the least of which is being connected to the source of immense encouragement, especially as we encounter the impossible-to-avoid harder places of our journey. 

There is always a point in my time on the treadmill when I breathe deeply for the energy and stamina to finish the distance for that particular day. Listening to the music encourages me to press through ‘the wall’, knowing the goal is in sight. Likewise, God will ‘sing’ to our heart and spirit, providing all that we need for the present moment, regardless of what is unfolding. But we do need to stay tuned, and tuned in.

Plugging in to God’s still small voice is particularly necessary for keeping the ears of our heart focused where they need to be. When we keep an open connection to God, He directs our steps. Without that connection, we can stumble and fall.

Sometimes when I’m listening and treading, I’m tempted to glance down and see how much time has elapsed or how many miles I have walked. Oops, the connection is broken, the concentration interrupted. In the same way, shifting our ears off God’s voice and listening or looking at something else is a sure-fire way to become distracted—which usually means we are more interested in self than in Him. 

Plugging in to God’s still small voice means there will be times when what He speaks and what I’m to hear is between Him and me. 

With the ear buds of the player securely in place, the only one who hears anything is me. Such is one reason for maintaining an intimate connection with God. There will be times when the songs He sings to my heart will be those of a lover; in other moments His sighs may be the gentlest of lullabies; and in other instances—the clearest notes of correction and guidance. In all ways, He will know what needs to be spoken, and left unspoken, with each passing moment. In all ways, He will know what is meaningful to our relationship.

Apart from all that staying connected to God’s still voice may imply, there is one aspect for which we bear full responsibility—only we can pull the plug. Unlike my removing the ear buds when I complete my walking, God will not break our connection with Him. Yes, we may make some decisions along the way which may put a fair amount of distance between us, but that too will be our choice. 

How blessed we are, that even in the midst of our attempts to ignore or dismiss His voice, He will remain faithful to communicate with us at the slightest movement on our part. Up close and oh, so personal could never mean more, under any circumstance.  

How do I feel about being plugged in to God, moment by moment?

What might be getting in the way of this kind of hearing intimacy?

Do I tend to limit the ways God wants to speak to me?

Have there been occasions when I pulled the connection? Why?    

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