My 7-year-old is determined, self-motivated, and goal-orientated. She sees what she wants and no obstacles get in her way. I constantly remind myself how great these traits are—or will be, once they’re shaped through God’s hands.
Problem is, we’ve got a lot of years of shaping ahead of us yet. She’s seven. I’m thirty-nine, and I’m not even fully shaped yet. So around our house I find myself saying the following phrase constantly:
“Raleigh, are you listening AND obeying.”
See. Often times I’ll ask her to do something, and she’ll continue on in her own way and be in complete disobedience. She receives consequences, but the next time I’m saying the same thing to her all over again, and she’s disobeying all over again. Thing is, she’s a good kid. She has a great heart and oftentimes such great intentions. So why is she still landing in trouble?
Well God intervened one day—He’s pretty faithful about doing that when we ask for wisdom. And typically when I’m disciplining my kids He shows up in a big way to point out something in my own life. Like I said (pointing a finger at myself here)…still not shaped yet.
I think I was asking her for about the zillionth time that day “But are you listening AND obeying?” and thinking with a big ol' sigh, why won’t this child obey??? And God leaned down and said…“Because she not hearing you.”
Um, pretty sure my voice was loud enough for her to hear it.
But then God opened up the obvious to me. Don’t you love it when He does that?
I was using that phrase “listening and obeying” really as “obeying and obeying”. I wasn’t actually asking her if she was hearing me. And Raleigh wasn’t disobeying out of sheer defiance. She was focused on a goal and nothing was going to stop her. Her entire being was determined to get to her target, and she heard nothing else. She wasn’t even tuned into my voice.
I certainly know I can. See, you all know I love to say how God created us with a specific plan and purpose, and when we catch a glimpse of even a portion of that plan, we become like a runner at the start of a race--focused on the finish line. And it’s great to prepare ourselves and be filled with a passion for what He’s called us to, but not at the expense of turning off our ears. We still need to be listening for Him. We need to train ourselves to hear his voice and stop.
So we can obey.
Because He may call out for us to stop when we are running full speed ahead. When our eyes are focused on the end-goal, we may miss the Mack truck headed toward us from the side. When all we see is our target, we might slip passed the detour ramp we needed to take. But God sees it all, and we need to recognize His voice.
Elijah was great at this. He’d been rather goal-orientated, but he also remained fully in tune with God’s voice. 1 Kings 19:11-12 tells us how Elijah was on a mountain side. The wind, earthquake, and fire all blew past and “after the fire came a gentle whisper." It was with that whisper God spoke, and Elijah clearly heard Him. Oh! To learn His voice so intimately that we can even hear it in a whisper.
I'm working on this with my daughter--getting her to recognize my voice above her own and to stop, physically stop, when she hears it, close her mouth, and listen. We need to do the same thing with our Daddy. To train our ear to hear Him (even in the whispers) because He's speaking, but are we tuned in so we can listen and obey?
Do you even get so focused on your end goal that you tune everything else out? What brings you back in focus?