Thursday, May 26, 2011

What my Radio Taught me About Prayer Last Night.

Photo courtesy of idono
One of my hobbies that I have recently come to enjoy more and more is amateur radio. I've been licensed since 1997 when I was a junior in high school but haven't really made use of it until just now. A few weeks ago I passed the test to upgrade my license so that I can operate on the frequencies that allow me to talk to people all over the world from right here in my home. Now, you may be thinking, "Christian, what does that have to do with spiritual matters?" Well, honestly, radio has very little to do with spiritual matters. That is, until it teaches us a lesson that is far more convicting than my comfort-minded heart likes. You see, hearing and talking to people around the world via "ham" radio is not as simple as picking up the phone, dialing their number and talking away. You have to tune into the correct frequency, hope that you can hear them, hope that they can hear you and hope with all your heart that the signal doesn't fade away. What I have found myself doing is looking at the internet logs of who is talking to who on what frequency and then tuning my radio there and listening intently for even a smidgeon of a signal (Yes, I am a geek). Herein lies the lesson.

The question that the Lord asked my heart last night was, "Do you listen for me with the same intensity that you listen for those signals?" Isn't it interesting how God uses the things we enjoy, our hobbies and our passions, to teach us deep, spiritual lessons. I don't think God was condemning my practice of amateur radio, just as I don't think He condemns your hobbies by asking probing questions about them. But this is what is so amazing about the Lord, He uses what is right in front of us to teach us and speak to us. Last night as I sat there with my headphones on listening for some guy in New Zealand through the static God saw a teachable moment.

God's questions are always rhetorical because He knows the answers and if we are honest with ourselves, we know the answers too. The answer to that question was, "No, I don't." The truth is, I want to hear from God but I don't listen for Him very much. Of course, I have time set aside in my prayer time to "listen" for God but that is usually the extent of it. Most of the time I am willing to listen for God if it fits within certain parameters, e.g. my schedule. I'm like the busy executive who tells the salesman, "I'll listen to what you have to say but you better say it quick because I'm a busy man." The problem is, I'm not saying this to a salesman. I'm saying it to the God who, just a minute earlier in my prayer, I asked to guide my every step...WOW!

The Bible tells us that we should be in a constant state of prayer (see 1 Thess. 5:17) and we know that prayer is a two-way street. We are to talk to God and we are to listen to God. It is alot like breathing. We inhale and exhale and it is something we do all the time. If we don't breath, we die. Spiritually, if we don't pray, we die, or at the very least grow stale in our relationship with Christ. It is no coincidence that the lesson from my radio can apply here as well. If I transmit all the time I cannot hear anyone who may be trying to talk to me. The funny part is, most hams (amateur radio operators) will tell you that operating on the worldwide frequencies is 90% listening and 10% talking. Oh that I would apply that to my prayer life!

Listen to the words of Psalm 130:6;

My soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen for the morning; Indeed more than the watchmen for the morning.

There is the sense here that we should eagerly anticipate a word from the Lord. When I was in Iraq we had to pull guard duty occasionally at our base and our shift was always through the night. It is no secret that bad things can happen when it is dark. Even with the help of amazing pieces of equipment like night vision goggles, nighttime can be a scary time. Whether we were pulling guard duty or we were driving in an overnight convoy, we couldn't wait for daybreak and the light of the sun. There was an eagerness to see the dawn. This verse is telling us that we should be looking for God with the same anticipation. The problem is, all too often, we don't. It is more like we want to get the memo out to Him as fast as we can because we've got other things to do besides sit around and wait on a response.

Listening for God is absolutely critical to our existence as believers. As of yet I don't know exactly how that is going to become a reality in my own life. What I do know is that I haven't been doing it right and something has got to change. I know that I've exhaled long enough and I've got to inhale. I've got to take time and listen intently for God.

Here is the final analogy from the radio. Sometimes, and I think my step-father (a world class amateur radio operator) would confirm this, after listening to static for a while a signal does come through. We may sit and listen and listen and listen for God and hear nothing but static. But, if we stubbornly refuse to stop listening His word will come through to us. I wrote just a few days ago about waiting on the Lord and God does honor us when we wait for Him. I am reminded of the scene from the movie Apollo 13 when the capsule was re-entering Earth's atmosphere. There was a great deal of concern that because of the damage incurred during the mission that it would be destroyed during reentry. During that time there was a period of radio blackout when the astronauts would not be in contact with mission control. Everyone was holding their breath for the blackout to end and receive word that they were okay. The expected time passed and there was still no response from the team. Suddenly, after what must have seemed like an eternity, they came over the radio and notified mission control that they were safely floating down with the parachutes deployed. Mission accomplished. Everyone was safe.

I'm guessing I'm not the only one who has waited and waited and waited to hear God through the static and then finally, just when I thought I wasn't going to hear anything a signal broke through. Take time to listen for God. Stubbornly listen for God because He will not let us down.

Godspeed,
Christian

2 comments:

Andrea Herring said...

Best one yet, my love. Keep pressing on. I love you!

Ashley Bullock said...

I know you wrote this almost a year ago, but I stumbled on it today. And it's EXACTLY what I needed to hear. How many things to I pursue passionately and even push God aside in my pursuit?!

Thanks Christian!