“I can’t listen,” complained our youngest granddaughter when the adult conversation in the car prevented her from hearing her favorite song. We smiled at her use of “listen” and turned the CD player volume up. Problem solved.
Most listening challenges are more complicated.
This morning as I read a devotion, the stone deck fountain played soothing, peaceful notes as the water trickled down its sides. The sound provided perfect “background music” for my study and reminded me of God’s peace that flows in the hearts of believers who trust Him.
In prayer, I released some anxious thoughts that threatened to engulf me. With a desire to hear from God, I picked up my study Bible and began to meditate on a familiar verse.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:7
A sudden buzzing sound pierced the quietness of my reverie. I discovered the source of the noise about twelve inches to my right. A giant carpenter bee hovered over the deck railing, playing dissonant notes with its wings. The awkward insect then lumbered along the underside of the wood looking for a spot to nibble out a hole.
The volume of the buzz not only distracted me from sensing God’s peace, but it also harassed me with thoughts of whether carpenter bees sting.
If not, I’ll stay. If so, I’ll move. I can’t remember. Should I shower the bee with insect spray or allow it to go on its merry way? Oh, well. He’s now busy with chomping.
Although my bee watching lasted only a few minutes before I returned to my devotional reading, I realized later I’d forgotten about the sound of the fountain, its representation of God’s peace, and the verse I’d planned to study. The distraction caused me to lose focus.
In the same way, pandemic life can fill our thoughts with a cacophony of disturbing news reports that are conflicting and constantly changing. What works today may be labeled ineffective tomorrow. Case numbers decline, and then they increase. Politicians pontificate, and doctors direct.
The barrage of information can incite apprehension and fill us with uncertainty. A friend recently told me she burst into tears when the television news pushed her over the brink.
When the buzz of newsfeeds and anxious thoughts divert my attention from hearing God’s peace and direction, I feel like echoing my granddaughter’s statement: “I can’t listen.”
The same is true when my appointments with God are interrupted by a text reporting a friend’s positive COVID-19 result or my own thoughts about increased local cases, or even a carpenter bee going about his God-designed tasks.
Has the volume of virus clamor hindered your ability to listen to God? How can we focus on His truths amidst pandemic distractions?
Consider the LISTEN acrostic below and meditate on the verses. Then, please share your thoughts on avoiding pandemic distractions.
L-I-S-T-E-N: Six Ways to Avoid Pandemic Distraction
L: List concerns in a prayer journal and share them with God in prayer.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.Philippians 4:6
I: Ignore distractions.
Cease striving and know that I am God.Psalm 46:10
S: Study the Word.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.Psalm 119:105
T: Thank God for His presence and provision.
Give thanks to the God of heaven, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.Psalm 136:26
E: Exercise self-control by tuning out negative attitudes and social media comments.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.Philippians 4:8
N: Note important truths God teaches you and commit to obey His instruction.
Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.Luke 11:28
Bible verses are from the NASB.