This morning the radio announcers were talking about a young band that had recently performed a concert. This is the kind of performance that is typically attended by screaming, ready-to-faint-at-a-blown-kiss teenage girls. It was packed to the rafters with girls and their twitter followers. Before the band starting playing, the announcers said, it was pandemonium. Screaming. Sobbing. Jumping. No seat being used except as ladders to get a better view. Craziness.
As soon as the band started playing, however, the noise from the audience stopped. Completely. All those hormonal, celebrity-crazed girls buttoned it. The announcers said the girls continued standing, but leaned in to hear every word of the lyrics. I’m sure there were still a few jumping and some tears leaking down their chins and lots of lips mouthing the words. But they listened. Between each song, however, the ear-piercing screams escalated once again. These girls listened carefully when the band they worshiped was playing, then praised loudly in response.
That is how I want to be with God. I want to listen in the right places.
I’m usually so deep in requests and complaints when I’m talking with God that I am not listening to what He has to say. Or at least not attentively. Or I’m talking over Him. I should clean out my ears, clamp my gums together, and listen. Or read and let His truth come to me through His lyrics. I’m sure that I know some of the Words.
And in between I want to praise Him with all the passion of those screaming, jumping girls. Why do I not regularly praise like that? Well, usually because it would startle people at Starbuck’s or wake people in my household or drown out the T.V. Sometimes I do praise loudly. Occasionally, I listen to the Bible and pray in my car—the loud, eyes-open, hand-waving kind of conversation with God that makes people think I should be institutionalized. That’s a safe place to praise with passion (unless it’s my turn to drive in the carpool)—as long as I keep one hand on the wheel at all times. And it looks like I’m yelling at myself which tends to keep stalkers and kidnappers from targeting me.
But, seriously, why don’t I listen at the right places and praise Him with passion? Because it feels awkward. Listening when you don’t “hear” anything seems crazy. The Bible tells us over and over to listen to God. The more we listen, the more we hear. But hearing doesn’t mean walking around with an ear trumpet listening for the audible voice of God. It means listening with your heart, your spirit. It means opening yourself with a quiet passion to acknowledge and obey God’s nudgings and pauses. To listen to the whispers of His Spirit, the authority of His Word, the wisdom of trusted advisers.
It is also awkward to praise loudly when those around you aren’t joining in. It is easy to scream your head off at a band whose woofers and tweeters are setting off alarms ten streets over. In the quietness of your home, workplace, or church, however, it is a different story. But God says to sing His praises from the rooftops. He is a mighty God and we should praise Him mightily.
So watch out world. My praise driving is about to ramp up…unless, of course, it is my time to listen.