A Gathering Voices post by Lynne M. Baab
Last week I wrote a post about listening to people who are grieving or in deep pain. I got a lot of comments on the post: 5 comments on this blog, 4 comments on Facebook (where I posted the link), and another comment on Facebook when a friend re-posted the link. The two weeks previous I wrote about listening to God (here and here), and got many fewer comments on the two posts: none on the blog itself and five on Facebook for the two posts.
Now, there may be lots of reasons why I got fewer comments on the two posts about listening to God. Perhaps the title of the posts wasn’t inviting. Perhaps the way I wrote about the topic wasn’t interesting. (And perhaps the number of comments doesn’t indicate the amount of interest in a topic!)
Perhaps the hook for last week’s column wasn’t the issue of listening. Perhaps it had to do with death and mourning. On March 8 I wrote a post entitled “Please don’t die,” where I described some of my own experiences with death and mourning. That post got 2 comments on the blog and 3 comments on Facebook. Some of the people who commented agreed with me that we talk too little about death and dying. We Christians, who know that God overcame death in Jesus Christ, so easily fall into the death denying posture of so much of Western culture.
So maybe the interest in last week’s post came from the connection with death and dying, something we talk about all too seldom. However, I found myself wondering if the topic of listening to God is less compelling simply because we don’t feel a particular urgency to hear God. We all feel pain, sorrow and sadness, and we all wish we could experience a listening ear when the pain feels overwhelming. When we extend a listening ear to someone in pain, on some level we know we are paying back what we owe for the times people have listened to us.
We know God is there, and we know God speaks to us through Scripture, in worship and prayer, and in many diverse settings and situations. We also know God has listened to us rant and rave and express our concerns over and over. But maybe the idea of listening to God more carefully is a bit scary.
What if God tells me to do something I don’t want to do? What if God urges me to think about something from a different angle than I’ve thought before? What if God wants me to be more compassionate to people with whom I disagree or who don’t seem worthy of compassion? What if God wants me to show love more often to someone who is hard for me to love? What if God wants to upset some of the comforts of my life? What if God wants to shake up the things I think I know for certain?
Maybe it makes total sense that we might have some reservations about listening to God.