One of my favorite books as a kid was called The Listening Walk written by Paul Showers. It was about a young girl who would go on walks and simply listen. She would take in every sound she heard, from the crickets in the grass to the woodpeckers in the trees; to the wind blowing all the way down to the sound of her father’s footsteps as they walked. And there was something about her story that impacted mine in such a way that I too would go for walks and listen like she did. And there was a wonder to that. A wonder because it was on those listening walks that God met me in such a profound way.
This year has been a year of listening walks.
A year in which I’ve found wonder both in places I expected and in places I certainly never did. I guess that’s what’s so adventurous about going on a walk with the Father. You never quite know where you’re going, but you know if you trust Him, the destination doesn’t really matter.
So this is me taking a moment, like the little girl in the book I so loved, to tell you what I’ve been hearing on my listening walks.
1. Keep still and listen. – Oh how I wish that was a simple task! We are such a busy people needing to always go and do rather than breathe in and be. The little girl in The Listening walk once said, “I keep still and listen.” I so desire that for my life. To be a person of stillness. A person that doesn’t feed into her anxieties but rather gets on her knees and gives them to Jesus. I pray to be a person who takes in the sounds without always needing to be the one making the sounds. So I’m learning to pay attention and breathe a little more.
2. Do the things that scare you. – Why would anybody do anything (on purpose) that scares them? I still question that but also know the last few things I’ve done that have absolutely terrified me have been some of the most rewarding moments in my life. So just do the things that scare you. Make a new friend. Get on that plane. Move to a new place. Try a new food. Change your career. Go to college. Open up your heart. Pierce your ears. Believe in goodness. Buy a dog. Try a different flavor of coffee. Get on that motorcycle. Or, go for a listening walk (because that can be scary too). But trust God in those moments. He goes before and He definitely still has you.
3. Kid, I’m in the details. – I was recently gifted with a trip to the Netherlands (I know, I still haven’t wrapped my mind around that one)! Cors and I walked through a museum that had original paintings from famous artists I’d only ever read about in books. Monet was my favorite because in many ways he was an escape for me. When the sounds I heard around me were unkind or scary, I would go for a listening walk and dream about all the places he painted. When I saw one of his paintings in the museum I instantly was brought back to those listening walks and felt the Lord say, “See, kid. I’m in the details.” There is so much I could say here but I’ll keep it simple and concise. Sometimes you look at your life and you don’t see God. You don’t see His hand at work and you wrestle to believe you are good enough for His hand to even be at work in your life. But then you find yourself in those wonder moments. Those moments that can only be attested to God’s grace. Those moments when you see He does make things new. Those moments when you are gifted with people you never dreamed would be in your life. Those moments when you get to work in a place that supports your weird artistic nerdy-ness. Those moments that just simply make you smile. There are plenty of those moments to go around. So kid, know He is in the details of your life. Keep walking. Keep listening.
We like to talk, but listening can be fun. So take a step back and take in all the sounds. Choose to listen because listening changes things. It changes your perspective and invites others into the conversation. And by others, I mean a Father who just wants to go on walk with you to remind you, He’s still your Father.