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I started a new blog series last week: Six Signs You Are Headed in the Wrong Direction. Click HERE to catch up and read the first sign: “When you have no peace about a decision.”
Dr. Charles R. Swindoll …
is an evangelical pastor, author, teacher and radio preacher. He is the author of over 70 books, and his radio program “Insights for Living” can be heard on more than 2,000 stations around the world. Swindoll has been an active pastor and accomplished author for over five decades, with an impressive list of accomplishments that gives us an idea of how busy the 83-year old pastor has been.
In his book “Stress Fractures,” Swindoll tells the story of what happened in his life several years earlier, when his children were still small. He said he found himself with too many commitments on his calendar. He was constantly nervous, snapping at his wife and children, eating meals hurriedly and feeling irritated with inevitable, unexpected interruptions throughout the day. He recalls, “Before long, things around our home started reflecting the patter of my hurry-up style. It was becoming unbearable.” He proceeds to tell the story of one particular incident that God used to shake him out of the busyness trap that threatened to destroy his life and family:
“I distinctly remember after supper one evening, the words of our younger daughter, Colleen. She wanted to tell me something important that had happened to her at school that day. She began hurriedly, ‘Daddy, I wanna tell you somethin’ and I’ll tell you really fast.’
“Suddenly realizing her frustration, I answered, ‘Honey, you can tell me — and you don’t have to tell me really fast. Say it slowly.’ I’ll never forget her answer: ‘Then listen slowly.’”
Even though the story happened several decades ago, it could not be more relevant for our current day. Gone are the days when extreme busyness was reserved to society’s overachievers, CEOs and leaders of large ministries across the globe. In this day and age, not only working parents, but also stay-at-home mothers run from one commitment to another, filling their short intervals of quietness with social media and constant noise.
Indeed, most of us can relate to Swindoll’s story. I know I can. Not many years ago, God also used something my daughter said to wake me up from an over-busy spell. My priorities were jumbled, and my health and family were suffering. I knew I had to start “listening slowly.”
But there is a most crucial relationship that also suffers when we don’t take the time to listen slowly: our relationship with God.
While trying to impart life principles to our teenage daughter, one of the things my husband and I have strived to convey from our experience is that God has a purpose for each of our lives, but it takes listening carefully and patiently, expectantly waiting for him to reveal his path for his children. For Christians, spending time in prayer and studying Scriptures are the steps to discern his direction and will for our lives.
It takes time. It takes the right perspective, and, first and foremost, it takes realigning our priorities.
Swindoll’s story made me think. I wonder what would have happened in this man’s life had he not, early in his career, accepted his daughter’s quiet admonition as wake-up call from God himself. What would have happened, had he not realized that overworking for God does not replace developing a relationship with Him. I wonder whether his busyness would have wrecked, not only his career, but also his family. It’s a sober thought.
Indeed, when we realign our hearts to stop and “listen slowly,” God speaks. Because He won’t shout over the crowds. His voice is often a whisper. Therefore, just as gently as a child’s voice fades away when she realizes her opinions and stories do not matter to her parents, our lack of interest or time for God silence Him, and we find ourselves stumbling our way through life, too busy to listen to the Voice that tells us where to turn.
How is God encouraging you today?