Do you ever have a day when you’re just annoyed? You can’t seem to put your finger on it, but there’s something gently rubbing in a direction that’s just enough off from normal that it becomes an irritation. That has been me this week.
I’ve thought, prayed and pondered (out loud to myself, no less) about it. I’ve gone to the gym for extra-grueling workouts with the hope that endorphins would push me to feeling better. I’ve cooked. I’ve cleaned. I’ve eaten an extra helping of dessert. No luck.
It would be easy to point fingers at some of the clear culprits in my life right now. (No, I won’t share them with you on here.) But the more I consider some of these options, the more I’m convinced it’s something less obvious. So what do I do? I throw myself on my bed and cry – big tears with loud wailing like you see in movies. Ok, that’s not the truth. I do the only two things I know to do: I write, hoping to sort out some of the mess as I pull my thoughts into sentences, and I trust God’s Word.
Today, 1 Peter 5:8-11 gives me great hope. It reads: “Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.” (The Message)
And so I remind myself that God has a plan for my life. I keep up my guard so that I’m not caught in compromise. I recall that there are others in the world with far larger irritations. And I smile knowing that there is a great work being done in my life – that this day with its annoyances is proof of that.
About a month ago I was having dinner with a large group of friends. We were talking, laughing, and preparing for a performance that evening. Through the din in the room I heard my name and I knew instantly whose voice it was. I quickly looked around for my friend to find out what she was saying.
Was it surprising that I heard my name? No – from a young age we are all trained to hear our name when called and to respond. Was it surprising that I knew whose voice it was calling my name? No – through years of friendship and working together my ear has been trained to recognize my friend’s voice. I am tuned in to what her voice sounds like and how my name sounds when she says it.
This is not a unique experience for me. We all can hear our name called in a crowd. We all have individuals in our lives that hold importance – and so we pay close attention to the sound of their voice so we can hear and respond when called.
In John 10, Jesus tells the parable of the shepherd and his flock. The sheep know the sound of their shepherd’s voice and respond to him but not to a stranger. “The sheep listen to the voice of the shepherd. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he brings all his sheep out, he goes ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger. They will run away from him because they don’t know his voice.” (John 10:3-5 NCV)
The sheep know their shepherd’s voice because they’ve spent time with him. They’ve listened to him guide them through fields, coax them toward water and protect them from dangerous places. They’ve been trained to recognize the shepherd’s voice. Similarly, the more time we spend with God, the more we are trained to hear His voice above the din in the world. God calls out my name. He calls out your name.
The questions we face are these: Are we spending time listening to God? What is your ear tuned to in this noisy world? Could you recognize and respond to His voice through the din?