Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Time to Listen

Be still, and know that I am God. Ps 46:10

She approached me after church, white haired with the vibrating voice of age. “Can I tell you a story?” she asked, and then described events around the dying of her husband. First, there was the TIA she experienced while her husband was in Hospice. Her children forced her to leave home and seek care at the hospital, where she remained for three days. One day, while awaiting her daughters’ arrival, she began to hear a most beautiful male voice singing the great old songs with a deep, rich voice: The Old Rugged Cross, In the Garden and How Great Thou Art. When her daughters arrived, she asked them to listen but they could hear nothing. Then, on the day her husband died, she was sitting alone with him and heard a thousand swooshes, like angel wings, as the love of her life breathed his last.

Isn’t it great that sometimes God opens up our ears to hear him speak, just to us? I do not doubt this sweet woman’s sanity. She needed to hear from God in a special way and he spoke to her with hymns and angel wings. I suspect that God speaks personally to each of us far more often than we think. I suspect that most of us spend so much time talking to God and listening to the world that God’s whisper is often missed within the roar.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, winner of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize, was recently interviewed by an NPR correspondent. When asked whether his spiritual life had changed over his many decades of service, he chuckled softly and said, “Yes, it has. I have learned to shut up more.”

As doctors we are always in a rush to make things happen in our professional lives. Sometimes we do the same in our spiritual lives, checking off a list of things we need to say to God, and things he needs to do for us before we rush into our days. Perhaps we need to shut up more. Perhaps we need a “timeout” at the end of our daily prayers in which we force ourselves to listen and require our minds to settle into his love.

Dear God,
Please let me stop and listen every time I come to you.

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