Saturday, September 26, 2015

Listening (really)

Today’s coffee: Something from Costco, I think?

So, we’re settling into home assignment, I guess. Settling might be a bit of an overstatement, since no two days are the same, and no two weeks are the same. Earlier this month I was lulled into a false sense of not being busy… which was fine, to some extent, since I am still recovering from a nasty cold. But I’m starting to panic about preparations for various things we’re doing next month. This leads me to spend lots of time planning out what I have to do when, and then not doing anything, and then panicking. It’s a vicious cycle.

There’s also lots of food around here. I’ve been helping my mom deal with it all.

We canned applesauce, ginger pears, pear mincemeat, and apple jam. 3 types of salsa were already in the pantry...
In the middle of all of this, I am realizing that perhaps one of my most important “tasks” during these 10 months at home (or away from home, depending on how you look at it) could be to actually learn to listen to God’s voice. I’ve been talking about this for years, and encouraging others to do the same.

But my habit tends to look like this: scurry around like crazy doing what I think I’m supposed to be doing, so busy that I’m really not paying attention to my surroundings or my friends and family, and if God is trying to say something to me, he’d have to shout over all the noise… and then when something difficult or perplexing comes up, to suddenly try to shut off all that noise and strain my ears and try to ask God for help. But then, I’m rarely able to tell if what I’m hearing at that point is God’s voice or my own thoughts, since I’m not accustomed to listening.

We’re in the middle of discerning where in Japan we will return to next May, and what sort of work we will be doing then. We have more ideas about the sort of work than the place, but in any case, we are perplexed as we struggle to sort out our own thoughts and emotions and figure out what is God’s leading and what is our own desires getting in the way. (Thankfully we have many others thinking this through and praying with us, so we’re not alone.)

At the moment, however, we are taking a breather. We’ll get back to thinking seriously about our next placement shortly, but for now, there’s a bit of space to develop good habits of listening before we need to make a decision. A book I have been reading suggests that perhaps I would want to seek instruction from God first, then direction. I think that’s good advice. 2-hour quiet times? Why not? Bring it on. We’ll see how well I do with that given next month’s schedule. I’m praying that I can use my time wisely and protect a bit of margin so that I will have time to listen… and so that I won’t go crazy when everything takes longer than I think it will. (At least I’m writing and delivering talks in my native language these days…)

"'You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,' declares the Lord..."
   Jeremiah 29:13-14a

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