Have you ever had a conversation that went something like this:
You begin telling friend about your day and they kind of nod with an, cheap “uh,huh…” It isn’t a stretch to realize that you don’t really have their full attention. (I have been caught doing this more often than I’d like to admit.) When you finish, you expect to hear some sort of related response as part of the conversation, but your friend has moved on to talk about something completely diffferent. You are left holding the bag for a one-sided conversation. Trying to keep up with the conversational gymnastics of your friend, you try to participate, but they flip from one topic to another at an almost random, but dizzying speed. Again, I am humbled to admit that I have been guilty of this kind of conversational randomness with my husband.
In our last post we talked about learning to read Scripture as a conversation with God. As we read, we are hearing from God and the Holy Spirit begins to engage our minds, drawing our attention to particular concepts. Once I pick up on what God is bringing my attention to, I have a choice in how I am going to continue the conversation. This brings me to another very basic concept.
So here is a simple rule in the art of meaningful conversation:
Let’s talk about the same thing!
When we read Scripture, we need to learn to stay on the same subject with God—to respond to what He has said, rather than changing the subject and praying about something else—stay on topic so you can hear all that God has to say.
For instance, let’s say that God draws my attention to this verse:
“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14“He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.
What do I too often do? Think “Great verse.” And then I whip out my laundry list of prayer requests and I am of praying for Aunt Gertrude—(which by the way is a great thing to do, but that’s not my point). God is gracious and will keep listening to me…but what have I missed by not staying on topic with what God had to say?
Here are a few gems that I totally glossed over, because I was in a hurry to talk about something else.
- Jesus is talking about who the Holy Spirit is—the Spirit of truth.
- Jesus is also talking about what the Spirit will do—guide me into all truth.
- Through the Spirit’s guidance, all truth, not just some truth, is available for me to learn. As a limited human being, I am not going to learn it all this side of heaven, but the Spirit’s role is to guide us into all truth.
- Jesus explains how the Spirit decides what He is going to say: He, like Jesus, speaks what He hears the Father say and then he speaks. Wouldn’t we have a lot fewer problems if we learned to do this one thing?
- More about the content of what the Spirit says; He glorifies Jesus and discloses the things of Christ to us.
Wow! I missed out on a lot by not sticking with what God was talking about. I think we would be shocked to know all of the things that God was wanting to explain to us if we would take the time to stay attentive– meditating on scripture and listening to God are intrinsically linked. As I listen more fully to what God wants to show me, I continue the conversation by responding to what He has said. Once we have finished talking about what God wants to show me, then I can move on to a different subject.
So often skipped.
I realize I need to give God the common courtesies I expect from other people; some things are just basic good manners. I was raised in the South, and I was taught that even if I didn’t have anything else to say, that responding with, “Yes Sir” or “thank you,” was the polite thing to do.