Herald Journal Columns
Oct. 13, 2003 Herald Journal
Pastor's Column

Are you listening closely to God, or do you forget to listen?

By Rev. Elizabeth Hadler, Montrose United Methodist Church

Along with being the pastor at Montrose United Methodist Church, I am also a mother of five young children ­ Danielle 10, Nicole 8, Joshua 6, Isaac 4, and Emily 22 months.

Yes, my husband, Gary, and I have been told more than once "you have your hands full," and we've been told other things as well. But I also have many, many stories of when I have learned some very valuable lessons from my children.

I just hope and pray that I can teach them as much as they teach me.

I have discovered that two months after giving birth to a child is a very difficult time. I don't know if it is due to hormonal change, physical change, sleep deprivation or what, but it is a challenging time.

This was true when our youngest child, Emily, was two months old. My emotions were all over the place, even though, over all, things were going quite well.

I took Emily for her two month doctor check-up, and as I was preparing Emily the nurse asked how I was doing. "Fine, just fine," I responded. I was thinking inside, 'this is Emily's check-up not mine, but how nice of you to ask.'

Then when the doctor came into the office, he began by asking the routine questions concerning Emily's development. At two months they are very basic: Does she focus on objects? How much does she sleep, eat, need a diaper change, etc.

But then he asked, "Is Emily trying to make sounds other than crying?" I hesitated, then responded, "Yes, but you have to listen very, very closely." Everything seemed to stop and get silent for a moment, and I repeated, "You have to listen closely."

We continued on with the doctor visit, but something strange or mysterious had happened. When we left the office and got into the van, my eyes started to fill with tears.

Isaac (2 years old at the time) and Joshua (4 years old at the time) were both with me, and Joshua noticed that I was crying. He asked, "Mom, what's wrong?"

I hesitated . . . what do I say? Finally I said to Joshua, "God just spoke to me." Joshua responded (matter-of-factly), "What did God say?" (pause) Then I responded, "God said, 'Be not afraid, I am with you always,' but so often, Joshua, we have to listen very closely."

Oh," Joshua said, "I already knew that!" I told Joshua, "Keep reminding me, because I had sort of forgotten."

The prophet Elijah had sort of forgotten God's presence as well.

If you turn to the 19th chapter of I Kings, we discover a very frustrated Elijah. In a nutshell, King Ahab had held the throne of Israel for years, his wife Jezebel had continually had her evil ways, and the people of Israel continued to reject the one true God.

Yet God allowed these things to continue. Elijah felt as though God was silent. So God sent a powerful wind, then an earthquake, then fire, but God was not in any of these.

Then in a gentle whisper Elijah sensed God's presence. Just when Elijah thought that God was silent and had lost control, God spoke to him in a way he least expected.

Is this also true with us at different times in our lives? Just when we think that God has abandoned us or has lost control. Just when we begin to doubt, to lose hope, and to wonder if it would be better just to give up, God speaks to us in ways we least expect ­ like through the words of a child.

Just when we think we are all alone, God reminds us that the Lord is always with us and at work in the world.

In all stages and situations of our lives ­ the good and bad, the highs and lows ­ we so often forget that God is with us.

We forget to give thanks, forget to ask for guidance, or forget to ask for strength. In the busy-ness of our lives, we need to be reminded that God is with us, but we so often need to listen very, very closely.

God is speaking to each and every one of us everyday. In the midst of all, God says to us, "Be still and know that I am God." Are we listening?


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