Have you ever ignored that warning as it blinks annoyingly to nab your attention?
I have. Many times, in fact. And each time it happens I think of how easy it is to ignore what God wants to say to us through Scripture, the Holy Spirit, prayer, our circumstances, and other followers of Jesus.
IT’S ALL ABOUT INTENT
We must want to hear what God’s direction is for our lives.
“Whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.” Proverbs 1:33
As I walked with God as a younger man, my focus on God was blurred by chasing after pleasure and possessions. It was like trying to listen to an educational podcast with Spotify blasting ColdPlay at the same time. You can pick up bits and pieces by turning up the volume, but you will never really receive the information. And the song’s joy will be lessened at least a little bit. That’s what it felt like.
I was ignoring God’s check engine light!
Sometimes I didn’t pay attention because fear, worry, and doubt landed me in that scary state where I could not hear God. For me, it was a helpless feeling…like being bound and gagged.
Another reason my attention was diverted came from the fires of anger and bitterness burning inside my soul. If I was seething over a conflict or hurt, it was impossible to read God’s Word much less mediate on it and be prayerful and obedient.
There were times when I might have been paying attention, but wasn’t serious or intentional about getting the message. I let the words in, but then allowed them to slip away through my laziness.
This was just as bad as having my attention turned off completely. I was so busy with my worldly life that even though I heard the message, there wasn’t any processing involved and that precluded application to my life. I was too concerned with all of my activities–and that fixation on pleasure and possessions–to have God’s Word connect with and change my heart.
A potential trap for all believers is either refusing to take God’s Word seriously, or accepting it in a careless way. God implores us with an outstretched hand, and yet we pay no attention or ignore it just like that check engine light.
“You refuse to listen when I call and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand.” Proverbs 1:24
Even if we do pay attention to what God might be saying, many of us wonder what we are supposed to hear. Are we listening for God’s will? Will we know when we hear it? Is it a special feeling? A banner in the sky? A checklist of things to do?
I learned through all of this pain that God’s answer to those questions is that we should not be looking for any of these things. We should be looking for our life purpose and discernment on what God would have us do for the Kingdom with our gifts and experiences.
Most importantly, I learned that if I’m not paying attention, I’m not ready to accomplish my desire for an intimate relationship with Christ.
It’s that simple.