Stop, Listen, Obey, and Worship
Note: This past weekend campus pastors had the opportunity to preach a sermon to their specific campus. I had the honor of speaking to our Lone Hill campus and wanted to share some of those thoughts in this blog.
I am a blessed man. I have an incredible family with the most amazing wife in the world and two beautiful, intelligent girls. Our home is filled with laughter and love and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Do you know what else our home is filled with, having young children? Noise. Lots of noise. There’s playing, chasing, singing, dancing, and pretending going on constantly and that’s only taking into account the noise I make ☺. Take those same activities that I’m doing and multiply that with having young children and it makes for a loud house.
Except for this weekend. This weekend, my wife took the girls to her parents’ house while I was working on various tasks. It was the first I had experienced something in our home since our 5 year old was born. Do you know what it was? Silence. Lots of silence. There was no playing, chasing, singing, dancing, or pretending. It was just silent. I even woke up in the middle of the night because it was almost too silent. It almost seemed like the silence itself was loud because it was so foreign to me for that length of time. Too much silence, although beneficial at times, can be uncomfortable.
When was the last time you sat in silence? It’s tough to say because we have become so accustomed to noise and don’t even notice it. Bernie Krause records natural sounds and gave a staggering statistic. He said that in 1968, in order to record one hour of undisturbed natural sound (e.g. no cars, cell phones, sirens, etc.) it would have taken him 15 hours. Today, in order to get that same one hour of undisturbed natural sound it would take him over 2,000 hours! We have a silence problem.
So what can we do about it? Here are four simple (though not necessarily easy) steps that we see in the life of Jesus that can help us experience silence and the blessings that come from it.
The first step is to stop and set aside time for God. Sometimes we are so busy doing things for God that we forget to stop to be with Him. In Mark 6, the apostles returned from preaching and casting out demons. They were so busy doing things for Him that verse 31 says they didn’t even have time to eat. So Jesus tells them to stop and rest. Jesus Himself stopped doing ministry frequently so He could spend time with the Father.
What good is it to stop to be with God if you don’t actually listen to what He has to say? It’s like going out to coffee with someone, talking the entire time while not waiting for them to speak, leaving, and saying that it was quality time. One-sided conversations rarely constitute quality time. Jesus sought the Father’s wisdom when selecting the twelve disciples (Luke 6:12-13) and He poured out His heart to God in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Listening and obedience are assumed when we are the ones asking (just ask any parent with young children ☺). But just because we listen to what someone says doesn’t automatically mean we obey it. We may just think it’s good advice, but unnecessary. Imagine how God feels as our Father when He wants us to not just listen to His words, but to put them into action. The word shema in Hebrew implies to both listen AND obey. With God, both must go hand in hand. What would have happened if Jesus listened to what God said in the Garden of Gethsemane, but didn’t obey it? What if instead of saying to God “thy will be done,” He thought dying for our sins was merely good advice but unnecessary? We’d still be lost in our sin. See how vital obedience is?
When we stop, listen, and obey, we are able to experience an incredible intimacy with God. Out of that intimacy, we rest in His love, experience His delight, discover our purpose, and are equipped to love others as Jesus does. Once we experience that kind of intimacy, we are driven to worship God wholeheartedly without distraction because we know how great He is and how amazing it is that He wants to spend time with us.
In order to combat the silence problem, we need to Stop, Listen, Obey, and Worship. Only when we S.L.O.W. down are we able to truly experience the intimacy with God we were created to have. I’ve started stopping in silence throughout the day and making sure our family has a Sabbath time together each week (which with how busy life gets can be incredibly tough). The rewards are worth it. It truly is a beautiful thing to eliminate noise and sit in silence to hear how loved you are by our Father. Like I said, I am a blessed man.
Throughout the Week...
- What is God speaking to you today?
- Read Ecclesiastes 5:1-2. How often do you go to God in silence and “let your words be few” (v. 2)?
- What are some action steps you can take today to set aside time to Stop, Listen, Obey, and Worship every day? How can you rearrange your life to have a Sabbath for 24 hours every week?