It seems to me that we are living in an increasingly noisy world. So many sounds, so many words, so many messages competing for our attention. I’m going to tell you a story today about how someone communicated with whispers that drowned out all the noise in the room. It’s a great relationship lesson about listening to the whispers.
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A volunteer opportunity
One of my favorite memories of our twin grandsons growing up is when Janet and I volunteered a couple of hours of our time at their grade school, once every couple of months or so. We would go to their classroom, and their teacher would have us help kids work on various tasks they were assigned.
Unlike when we were in grade school, where desks were arranged in straight rows, their classroom had groups of four desks, facing each other to form a square. Janet and I would then go from group to group and help with any math, science, or reading assignments the kids were working on. All this while the teacher was working with her own larger reading group.
The most memorable of these occasions happened when the boys were, I think, in 2nd grade. We walked in one morning near the beginning of the school year and met their teacher for the first time. I thought she was an 8th grader – she was so small and looked so very young. I immediately liked her. She assigned us to our different groups of 4 students, while she worked with her group.
On this particular day, Janet was off in one corner of the room with a group, while I worked with another group. In mine, there was a boy struggling over something he didn’t quite understand. He got so frustrated that he started crying. So I helped him figure out whatever it was he didn’t get, and he finally calmed down. I felt so bad for him. School can be so demoralizing for some kids.
It got noisy
About this time, I noticed that the noise in the classroom began to increase. All these groups of 4 working on things and talking with each other. They weren’t goofing off, they were just talking with each other as they did their work. But it was getting louder and louder.
I then wondered how this diminutive young teacher was going to handle the situation. When I was a teacher right out of college, I would have shouted out something like , “Hey! It’s getting too loud in here! I can’t hear myself think. Dial it down a few notches.”
She did just the opposite. It was fascinating to watch. When the noise started to get to her too, she stopped with her reading group, and stood up from her chair. Keep in mind she wasn’t that much taller than her students. I expected she was going to shout out something, but she didn’t. Rather than talking louder than the kids, she spoke softer, almost in a whisper, asking the kids very politely to lower their voices.
I was skeptical. How are these kids going to quiet down with her speaking so softly? Then an amazing thing happened. Slowly, one child noticed the teacher talking, who then asked the four classmates in her group to quiet down. “Shhh! I can’t hear what she’s saying.”
This soon spread around the room. Kids stopped talking so they could listen to the whispers of the teacher. My respect for the teacher grew even more. I wish I would have tried this technique when I was in her shoes years ago. Her whispers reminded me of one of my favorite passages in the Bible.
It’s a story of Elijah who had just won a confrontation with the prophets of Baal, and he was physically and emotionally exhausted. God then shows up and asks Elijah a question. I’ll read the question that begins the story in 1 Kings 19:9-15
“What are you doing here, Elijah?”
“Elijah replied, ‘I have zealously served the LORD God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”
“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the LORD told him. And as Elijah stood there, the LORD passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the LORD was not in the wind.
After the wind, there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake, there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire, there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
Whispers can get our attention
God wasn’t in anything dramatic or noticeable. He didn’t wow Elijah with his presence. God got Elijah’s attention with a gentle whisper. Just like the grade school teacher of my twin grandsons. It’s how God works a lot of times, through his gentle whisper.
It’s hard for us to hear his whispers sometimes because of all the noise around us competing for our attention. I don’t need to give you examples, you know what I’m talking about. They’re the metaphorical windstorms, earthquakes, and fires that Elijah experienced. It’s hard to hear the whispers of God through them. But we can if we try. Like the 2nd graders who stopped talking so they could hear their soft-spoken teacher speak.
So what does all this mean for YOU?
A couple of ideas come to mind about listening to the whispers of God.
I’ll start with noise. Get rid of it as best you can. Turn off the radio, the music, the TV. And dare I say… the podcast. Build some measure of silence into your life. Create space for God to whisper to you. God is a gentleman and won’t barge into your mind and heart if they’re filled with things that distract you from Him.
I wonder, too, if God, through his Holy Spirit, has already been whispering to you. Is he prompting you to take a certain action or think a particular thought? Like saying something to encourage someone. Or deciding to forgive that person who hurt you. Hmmm.
Finally, if you’re not hearing anything from God, ask him to whisper something important to you that you need to hear. The whisper may come from a verse in the Bible, something you see in nature, or a thought from a friend. There’s no limit to God’s creativity in communicating with us.
Here’s the main takeaway I hope you remember from today’s episode
The loud and dramatic get our attention. Most of it, though, is just noise. And it's not how God usually communicates with us. More often than not, he reaches out to us with whispers. Whispers from his Holy Spirit, from the Bible, and from people he prompts to act on our behalf. Good things happen when we listen to God’s whispers.
In closing, I’d love to hear any thoughts you have about today’s episode. I hope your thinking was stimulated by today’s show, enough to put into practice what you’ve just heard about listening to the whispers from God.
For when you do, it will help you experience the joy of relationships God desires for you. Because after all, You Were Made for This.
Well, that’s it for today. If there’s someone in your life you think might like to hear what you just heard, please forward this episode on to them. The link is JohnCertalic.com/179. Or scroll down to the bottom of the show notes for this episode and click on one of the options in the yellow “Share This” bar.
And don’t forget to spread a little relational sunshine around the people you meet this week. Spark some joy for them. And I’ll see you again next time. Goodbye for now.
Related episodes you may want to listen to
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021: The Most Important Relationship of All
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One of the frequent questions I’ve been asked since I’m now in what the world calls retirement, is, “how is retirement” or “what’s retirement like”. My most frequent response is, “So many voices, so many choices”. Of which more than one of the voices from scripture is, “be still and know that I am God!” God does “whisper” in silence. Thanks for the challenge. Even the Christian culture offers MANY voices and discovering HiS voice and then making the proper choice is a lifelong challenge for me.
Thanks for your thoughts, Vivyen. It certainly is challenging to hear the whispers of God, even in the midst of many good things out there.