Shut Up and Listen
I love to walk and hike and The Appalachian Trail has been a long-time favorite locale for adventure, so this year found me leaving Springer Mountain in Georgia headed north up the trail. My plan was to end up in Maine, through all 14 states of the trail, and its 2,192 miles, enjoying lots of the side trails on the way. I’d been on the trail four other years, so I had a good sense of the physical challenges and scenic highlights of this trek, but there were in addition three specific personal objectives I targeted. This is an account of how God fulfilled one of those ambitions.
Deuteronomy 10:12 asks:
“What does the LORD your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
I would have seven or eight months hiking, and I wanted to learn how to better walk in the ways of God. I was looking forward to lots of time reading the Word, meditating on God’s ways, and opening my heart to Him in prayer. I did have wonderful times of scripture study, and I treasured the hours I had to meditate on the greatness of God’s creation and love, but my prayer life became a disconcertingly uncomfortable and unproductive experience.
"More than the 10,600 photos I took, or the multiple shoes I wore out, the joy of quieting my own talk so that I could hear Him was the greatest outcome of this adventure."
In the first couple months of my hike I had a well-organized prayer list and could spend a couple hours a day praying as I walked. God was just not ready for me to walk with Him this way. He kept trying to insert His way into my walk and prayer, and I kept ignoring it.
Finally, God got to the point: He wanted me to listen so that He could talk to me. I had been hogging the conversation, and He had lots of things to tell me. If we were to walk together, He wanted me to speak less and listen much more. But I was persistent in my attempts to pray to God my way, and it took me additional weeks to finally get His message, and He had to be very direct: SHUT UP AND LET ME TALK!
The remaining months of my hike were transformed by a real, continual joyful and loving conversation with God. There was so much He wanted to tell me that occasionally I’d need to stop to take notes so that I didn’t forget messages. My prayer time was a continuous time during the whole day and was a real two-way conversation as we walked together. The burdens of my heart could be poured out to Him as we talked, and I came to know so many previously unobserved aspects of Christ that deepened and broadened our friendship, and my love for my savior.
More than the 10,600 photos I took, or the multiple shoes I wore out, the joy of quieting my own talk so that I could hear Him was the greatest outcome of this adventure. I hope to keep growing and deepening the conversation over my years.
"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." (PS 46:10)