a new kind of listening on the last day of hush

The coffee is ready, I gather my books and duck out the back door into the dark of the morning. Staring into the early sky, a project from grade school comes to mind. Black construction paper stretches over a light source. Small hands take turns poking holes with a sharp yellow pencil.

I pause on my way to the small building behind our house, get lost for a moment in the black paper sky boasting a handful of poked out wonder, the tiniest dots of twinkling white made with a sharp point from the other side.

I imagine God holding a giant pencil. Number 2.

The screen door creeks as I open it and walk into our make-shift study, turn on the heat, light a candle. We call it The Man Room, but today it’s a sanctuary. Quietness sings praises and still hands are my sacrifice.

Today is the last day of hush.

But not really.

I’m only beginning to practice the fine art of listening, not just while I’m alone in the presence of God but while I sit among friends and family. I’ve always considered myself a fairly attentive listener. This month I haven’t been able to hide from my dysfunction.

As it turns out, my listening tends to center around me, my own needs, what I might have to gain in the hearing or what I am able to offer that will be helpful or well-received. Realizing this is uncomfortable.

But comfort is highly overrated.

Repentance is freedom. I’m turning from that kind of listening. It is a slow, painful turn but there is hope in this circling. Not just a hope for me, but for us, the community. The church.

These 31 days are left unfinished. I feel like we’ve only begun to turn the key. This morning, I’m at peace with that.

I’ll end this series without fanfare today, but come back tomorrow (or maybe the next day?) where I plan to host a giveaway of some of the books I’ve been sitting with during the series. I hope to see you then. Let’s continue the journey together.

Did you write your own 31 days series this year? Go tell our host The Nester what you thought of the experience!

This is day 31 of 31 Days to Hush. Visit the hush page to see all the posts in the series. If you would like to receive new posts in your email inbox, subscribe now.

2 photos and 25 words to hush your soul

Here is a place where we remember that we are folded safely into the heart of God . . .

. . . and here is where we live like we believe it.
This is day 30 of 31 days to Hush.

glad hope from unpredictable hands

There is a stack of brochures in the little room I now type in. I keep staring over at them, re-reading their invitation to know more about you. If you would like to be informed of upcoming events . . . 

I reach over and turn the plastic holder to face the wall. I can’t keep reading that same brochure over and over again.

It’s easy to think when you make space for God that things will take a truly spiritual turn. Sometimes I suppose that’s the case. But mostly, it’s still just me in an empty room with a stack of brochures I’m trying not to read.

You know things are dire when you turn to retreat center brochures to avoid facing what’s really going on in your soul.

It’s a good thing this place has no TV.

“I’ve often done all I know to do to create space for God. I’ve spent time in prayer I thought was contemplative, I’ve said no to lesser desires to make room for rich fulfillment, I’ve knelt before God with the bread and wine . . . and for all my effort, I’ve felt only increased emptiness. Frustration. Silence. I created space for God and He didn’t fill it.

Or did He, in ways I failed to recognize because I was expecting something else? Or didn’t He, because I was arrogantly working hard, thinking He would be impressed and compelled to show up?”

- Dr. Larry Crabb, Shattered Dreams

Perhaps I have been arrogant.

I wanted to take a week, become quiet on purpose, and have God show up in a way I could not only understand but also explain and, if I’m honest, maybe even control.

I waited for a God I could manage. He reveals himself maddeningly unmanageable.

He kills my linear god. Again.

And I realize how much I hate the concept of God “showing up” anyway. As if there is a place where he isn’t and for reasons beyond my understanding, he decides to finally show up there.

God is I AM. He doesn’t show up, HE IS.

Silence and stillness are of great value, but only to the degree that I bring them with me as I enter into relationship. Empty rooms don’t give me much opportunity to love.

He may reveal Himself to me in the stillness and the hush, or he may not. Either way, I have to come out, rub shoulders with messy people and, in so doing, discover my own hidden mess is worse than I thought.

But in that rhythm of relating, if I am in touch with the deepest part of my soul that longs for nothing more than to reveal God, then that messy relating takes a slight turn, away from despair towards glad hope. Not the kind that comes from visible me, but the kind that pours out of Invisible God.

***

Home. I’ve been back for three days now, tucked into the walls of our house and the arms of family. Today represents a re-entering – a facing of email, of schedules, of life. This does not overwhelm me. Hushing has done its work.

Over time I expect to share more with you about my week away. For now, here are four small thoughts I can put into words:

Getting quiet reminds me that my sin is worse than I thought.

Grief, despair, and lament have a more important place in the life of believers than I once understood.

Broken dreams may sometimes be more useful than whole ones.

His provision of hope is better than I ever imagined.

This is day 29.

quiet spaces

we had gone far enough together

This is day 28 of 31 days to Hush.