A Time to Listen

Last week the time changed, and it’s likely that your body is still getting used to the “Spring Forward”. Also we’re adjusting our mental clocks. Did you find yourself asking, “What time is it?” a lot more this week? The mornings are dark and the evenings are a little brighter, and it throws off our sense of time.

There’s a familiar passage in Ecclesiastes chapter 3 that talks about the idea of time. Wise King Solomon understood that ‘time’ is so much more than movements on a sundial, dates on a calendar, or the way we plan daily activities. He wrote

For everything there is a season, and time for every matter under heaven:                                                                                       

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

We live in a busy world, and we are scheduled to the max. Our collection of day planners, digital calendars, scheduling apps, and reminders set on our phones testify to the hectic existence we have become so used to. All day long we can be heard saying, “Hurry up!” “Let’s go!” “I can’t be late!” “What time is it?”

The better question is closer to what Solomon wrote in this famous passage. We should be asking, “What season is it?” When we become more concerned about timing instead of time, we will have more fulfilled lives.

We can become casualties of doing the right thing at the wrong time. That lead to so much frustration because the results will never be as great as we envision or plan, or even what the “experts” tell us they will be. Too much of those disappointing outcomes and life begins to feel futile.

Solomon surely understood this futile emptiness all too well. “Vanity of vanities” he laments over and over. Regardless of wealth and accomplishments, he saw his days being spent like grains of sand in his hand.

Today, we have Solomon’s words to read so that we can apply our hearts to wisdom as Moses prayed generations earlier,

So teach us to number our days
    that we may get a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12)

The passage about time in Ecclesiastes is often read at funerals, challenging the living to consider how we approach the limited moments we have to make the most of the opportunities we have. The Apostle Paul calls this “redeeming the time.”

As this article is being written, the world in in the throes of a pandemic. Nations are scrambling to contain a virus that causes a potentially fatal respiratory crisis in its victims. Schools are closed and many people have been ordered to work from home. Public gatherings are discouraged and some areas are under mandatory quarantine.

For a busy society all of these things are real incoveniences, but especially for those of us who follow Jesus we must see the opportunity in the disruption of our normal routines.

Now is a time to listen. What is God saying to us, to me individually? What words of direction, confirmation, warning, correction, encouragement, and life has He been trying to communicate but that our frenzy has deafened us to?

It’s a good time to say like little Samuel as he was learning to recognize the voice of the Lord, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” (I Samuel 3:11)

Action step: This week do a search on the words listen and hear through the Scriptures. Think about how the verses can be applied to your own life. Here are a few to get you started:

Psalm 34:11

Psalm 66:18

Proverbs 8:32

Proverbs 19:20

John 10:27

Matthew 7:24

Matthew 13:23

Since the slower pace of life has been required of us because of current events, let us not waste it! Now is the time to listen and hear. We will never regret the time we invest in getting to know His voice so that we can hear His guidance and learn His ways. In reality, what in this whole world is more important than that? Let’s challenge ourselves to get quiet, to turn off the noise of devices and media input, and to limit conversations with people so that we can tune our hear to the voice of the One whose Word holds everything together.

Go for a walk, sit on the porch with just your Bible, a pen, and a notebook. Wake up early to sit silently to hear what the Lord may say. What an opportunity we have to train our ears to hear His voice and distinguish it from all other voices. The days are evil and we must redeem all the time we can. Surely the days are coming when our ability to hear Him will make the difference betwen our safety, danger, life, or death.

It’s time to listen.

This song, “Speak to Me”, by Kari Jobe may help set an atmosphere of quieting ourselves to hear what the Lord is saying.

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