The Posture of Listening

What should I do with my life? Who should I date? Should I get married? Who should I marry? What course of study should I pursue? Which tertiary institution should I go to? What job should I take up? How do I know I’m making the right decisions? These are just a few of the questions we all wrestle with at some point. And in a world where all waiting time is seen as wasted time to be eliminated, we no longer have many chances to practise patience. Part of our—and subsequent—generation’s challenge of faith is learning to wait on God’s answer and his perfect timing, instead of bringing our concerns to him but having no patience to wait for his reply.

In the devotional classic The Secret of Guidance, F.B. Meyer advised that when we are praying about whether to make a certain decision, we should look for the alignment of what he called ‘the three lights’: God’s word, the Spirit’s prompting, and our life’s circumstances. He wrote:

“Sometimes we sigh for an angel to come to point the way but the time has not come for us to move. If you do not know what you ought to do, stand still until you do. And when the time comes for action, circumstances, like glowworms, will sparkle along your path… The circumstances of our daily life are to us an infallible indication of God’s will when they concur with the inward promptings of the Spirit and with the Word of God. So long as they are stationary, wait. When you must act, they will open, and a way will be made through oceans and rivers, wastelands and rocks.”

Like everyone, there are times when I intensely seek God’s clear direction in life and in ministry. It is in such a context, over the past six consecutive days (at time of writing), that the passage and theme of 1 Sam 3 kept surfacing—impressing upon me to be in ready posture in order to hear God’s word clearly. God spoke with Samuel, but also with all his prophets and apostles. Even today, he guides us with His Holy Spirit (paraklētos)—one who is present with us, an advocate and helper (John 14:16). God cares about our questions around life’s questions and purposes and will direct us to do certain things or pursue certain opportunities. Let us learn to perceive what he is saying to us.