Do you like to listen? It’s one of those things we don’t think about too often. Some like to listen to music or the rain or birds outside the window. But when it comes to other people, most of us would rather talk than listen. Maybe you’ve been accused of talking too much, yourself. Maybe a teacher or a parent has said you need to listen more. Perhaps someone has reminded you once or twice that God gave you two ears and only one mouth because he wants you to listen twice as much as you speak. Sound familiar?
One of my least favorite questions is, “What’s for dinner?” I don’t dislike the question itself. I dislike the fact that I answer it about seven times a day. It doesn’t matter which child asks—they never seem to actually listen to the answer. Not that they’re the only ones with this problem. I’ve caught myself having to repeat a question because I wasn’t really paying attention to the answer the first time.
Let’s practice a listening game. First, quietly think up a simple question in your head. It could be as easy as “What’s your favorite color?” or “What restaurant do you dislike the most?” Just remember to keep it quiet—don’t share it yet. Have the oldest person in your group count to three, and then have everyone say their question at the same time. Could you hear the other questions? Can anyone answer the other questions WITHOUT REPEATING THE QUESTIONS?
The book of Habakkuk begins with a question for God. God replies, but Habakkuk’s not satisfied with the answer. So at the end of chapter 1, Habakkuk asks another series of questions. Then he says something interesting. Read Habakkuk 2:1-4.
I love Habakkuk’s attitude here. He’s frustrated and looking for answers. But he’s not stomping off in a huff like some of us do at times, blowing off steam and then moving on. He’s climbed to the top of the tower where he says he’ll stay until he hears from God. Can you imagine? No TV. No phone. No iPod. Just Habakkuk…in silence…listening…for God. Wow!
The Bible doesn’t specify how long Habakkuk had to wait. Reading these verses, it seems like God answers instantaneously, but it’s much more likely that Habakkuk hung out in that tower for awhile. God is faithful, thought. He sees Habakkuk’s genuine desire for understanding, and so he offers the prophet a glimpse into the future. He gives Habakkuk the reassurance that this wicked people will only be elevated for a period of time. Then God, in his righteousness, will crush the Babylonians as a consequence for their sin and rescue the Israelites. In his timing, God will make everything right.
We’ll read Habakkuk’s response to that next week, but I bet the prophet is so very glad he waited and listened for God to answer.
There are many times when we ask questions and then move on, not waiting for the answer. And our conversations with God are no different. We cry out to him to help. We complain about unfair and unjust things we witness at school or on the news. We plead for answers and direction. And then…we wander off, almost like we don’t expect him to respond. But Habakkuk reminds us that the God we serve is not distant or distracted. He is a personal God, concerned with the burdens of our heart. When we seek him and then LISTEN FOR HIM, God is faithful to answer. It may not be quick, it may not always be clear, and it may not be what we’re hoping to hear. But he will answer. All we have to do is listen.
Is there something you’ve been seeking God for, a question you’ve offered up? In the midst of your asking, have you taken the time to listen for an answer? Try now. Spend a short time in family prayer, then allow some silence to just listen to what God may want to tell you. Like we’ll find with Habakkuk, it could change everything!
Heavenly Father, I am guilty of hit-and-run prayers. I come to you with my questions and complaints, but I very rarely hang around to hear your responses. Forgive me for that, God. Help me to spend more time just listening. Help me calm my mind, close my mouth, and open my heart to hear your voice. Thank you, God, for your faithfulness. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen
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