Take a moment to visualize a radio. Maybe it’s an old one from the 30s or 40s, you know, something FDR would have delivered one of his famous fireside chats from, or maybe it’s more modern, with a couple of rabbit ear antennae sticking out of it. Regardless of what it looks like though, all radios have antennae that pick up a broadcasted signal and it’s realized as sound from the speaker. Pretty cool when you actually think about it.
Now imagine that you live in a quaint town that is located in a valley surrounded by mountains. You tuck in for an evening to listen. The fireplace is lit and your favorite beverage is in hand. You power up the radio in your living room in anticipation of hearing some of your favorite music or a program that’s on. But, all you hear the radio pick up is static; something just isn’t quite right. You try moving the antennae to get a clearer signal, but you continually encounter static because of the valley that you reside in. Eventually you give up, thinking your favorite program is just not getting through to you.
Sometimes it can feel like that with God, can’t it? We’ve created the space, set the scene, and are ready to listen, but all we’re getting is static. We start to think that He’s not even broadcasting anymore. We try our best to tune in, but our doubts, depression, confusion, stress, and the day to day of life, become the mountains which block His signal from getting to our antennae. After repeated moments of static, we eventually find ourselves in a valley of disconnection from His presence. The valleys of our life can feel lonely and meaningless as we continually try to get a clearer signal, but instead only hear the subtle sound of static.
You are never alone though with the Holy Spirit living inside of you, and scripture tells us “…[the Spirit] will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” (John 16:13 ESV). Static still means that you are receiving something, and that is the beautiful thing to consider: your antennae, your focus, needs only to be adjusted towards Him in order for His signal to become clear again.
When I find myself in a valley, it’s usually because my focus has gotten away from the Father, and I find it best to take a moment to pause, breathe deeply, and pray; asking Him for clarity. Ask God to identify what is drawing your attention away from Him. If even that prayer is full of static, start by considering your place in the universe. Vast and expansive, but full. Full of beauty, wonder, light, and the goodness of God. Pray to Jesus as openly and raw as you can, as if you were talking to a friend. He invites you to redirect your focus towards him: “come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NIV). He knows your burdens and He’s broadcasting love and peace this very moment to you so that you feel His presence clearer than ever before. We just need to redirect our focus towards him.
Valleys will come and go in our faith, but how we navigate them is how we get back to the mountaintop, where we feel closest to God. I’ve never audibly heard the voice of God, and you may not either, but redirecting our focus will awaken an awareness of His presence that is all around us and will tune us into the Holy Spirit living inside of us. He will fill you with hope, love, and grace. Begin every day not with the stress of the day, but by focusing on God with open ears and an open heart. Each day will be a step back up the mountain and closer to heaven.
Comfort food. For me that’s Shepherd’s Pie or Mac & Cheese. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/shepherds-pie-recipe2.html
“Vapor” by Gungor/The Liturgists (The entire “Vapor” liturgy by the Liturgists is excellent as well and leads you through a time of spoken word mediation, song, and prayer focused on listening)
Father God, creator of all, let me breathe deep of your love and grace and listen to you beyond the noise of life.
Then listen. Create space for transcendence.
Go for a walk in the woods. Walk around a museum. Put on your favorite album and listen. Grab coffee with a friend and be truly present. Go wherever you can see God most clearly away from the noise of life. Bring a journal and pen and write out what and how you’ve been feeling. Then just pray.