You have gathered with your family to celebrate your mother’s 80th birthday. There are 25 people in the room, all trying to hold multiple conversations at the same time, the television is way too loud, and the neighbor’s dog is incessantly barking. You are at a concert and the music is so loud that you cannot even talk to the person next to you.
What do those two situations have in common? Neither of them is conducive to holding one to one conversations. It is just too loud and there are too many distractions. In fact, after leaving, you say to your wife, “It was so loud I couldn’t hear myself think.” What does thinking sound like anyway?
You are meeting your college roommate, whom you have not seen in years, for coffee. You get to the coffee shop early and immediately look for a table in the corner, away from people, near the fireplace. You are celebrating your wedding anniversary so you make reservations at your favorite restaurant and you ask for a romantic table for two, one away and from the constant traffic in and out of the kitchen. Does the coffee or the food taste better at those faraway tables? Of course not. But you want to have intimate conversation with the other person without too much distraction and background noise, so you desire to be alone with them.
The same can be said of our conversations with God. While it is true that God can speak to us in noisy rooms, at concerts, in loud coffee shops, and just about any other place, we often struggle to hear Him. The problem is not God’s ability to speak, the problem is us being able to listen. Most often, God is not the loudest voice in the room. (Read 1 Kings 19:1:13.)
Throughout His life, Jesus withdrew from people, daily life activities, and the demands of his ministry to be alone with the Father and pray. After He heard that John the Baptist had been beheaded, we are told “he withdrew privately by boat to a solitary place.” (Mt. 14:13) Elsewhere, in Mark 1:35, here is what we read – “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” And on the night before His death, in the quietness of the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” (Mt. 26:36)
If you want to hear God and allow Him to lead you, guide you, and direct your steps, then it is imperative to carve out time to be alone with Him, without distraction. Here is what Jesus promises when we do that – “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.” (Mt. 6:6, MSG)
Where is your table for two?
New Bern, North Carolina