The Discipline of Listening {When I First Heard Him}

The familiar buzz rings loud and I scurry to respond. An 8am class was one thing, but to wake hours before was another burden entirely. One I didn’t want to subject my roommates to.

Cedar fills my lungs as I descend down each rung of my grandpa’s handiwork. The scent never gets old and I smile wide as I think of him sanding this loft down for me. It’s still dark as I tiptoe to the walk-in-closet and turn on the small light overhead. My Bible and journal in hand, I’m ready to begin the day.

I learned quick in college that sacrificing a bit of sleep was worth it if I could start my day out right. With Him. And I’m so grateful I did. When I manage to look beyond the expense of it all, I realize the most important lessons I learned in college were found during my mornings nestled down in the closet atop the multi-blue commercial carpeting.

For that’s where I learned
to carry on a conversation with Him.

Friends, that’s where I learned to listen.

It all started when I read this:

To those who listen to my teaching,
more understanding will be given,
and they will have an abundance of knowledge.
But for those who are not listening,
even what little understanding they have
will be taken away from them.
That is why I use these parables,
For they look, but they don’t really see.
They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.
Matthew 13:12-13

They look, but don’t see. They hear, but don’t listen… I repeated that for days, hoping the sting of reality would go away.

At this point, I had been a Christian for fourteen years. I’d read the Bible through multiple times. I knew every Sunday School story, every Bible verse response for most situations…

I knew Him, but didn’t know Him.
I was still seeing in parables.
Still hearing formalities.

I was a part of a religion, not a relationship.

Weeks followed and I struggled to figure out how to overcome this. I read commentaries on the passage. I prayed slower. I asked more questions. And I waited. Even when it got awkward.

Today, I laugh when I realize how difficult I made it and how simple it could have been to transition into this love affair I’m now captivated with.

All I had to do was ask.

It went something like this:

Lord, You’ve been a part of my life since I can remember. You know me down to how many fibers are on my head. You see the parts of me that make me blush. The dark corners I intentionally hide from everyone. Yet You love me. Relentlessly. And You died for me to prove it.

Father, I want to know You like that. I want to see the fibers of You and how they intertwine into my days. I want to feel Your touch and experience the kind of peace only You can bring.

Holy Spirit, can You help me? Can You tune my heart to His voice?

Speak to me, Lord. I’m listening. Show me, Father. I’m looking. Lead the way, Jesus. I’m following…

And I sat there cross-legged on the blue nylon fibers. My palms opened, ready to receive. My eyes closed to the world, anxious to see beyond it. My ears waiting for the silence to break.

I’m not sure how long it took for my heart to truly open, but it happened.

Friend, He asked for my hand. I gave it to Him. And He’s never let go.

He explained communion to me in ways I could understand. As time passes, as I grow closer to Him, He reveals more.

For fourteen years I followed Him in silence.

I’ve had seventeen years now of learning to listen. And still I strain some days.

But now I know His voice when I hear it. When I discipline myself to listen.

I hear Him in His living Word. Through my husband. My son. You.
I see Him all around me. The fibers of His being wrap me each day.
And I feel His embrace when I close my earthly eyes and allow myself to be swept up by His love.

Friends, I’m not a part of a religion anymore.

I’m in a relationship with the King of Kings.

I pray you can say the same.

How about you, friend? Do you hear Him? How do you listen? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

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33 thoughts on “The Discipline of Listening {When I First Heard Him}

  1. Awesome….it’s an awesome moment of growth in our relationship when we begin to look beyond what we’ve been doing. But that’s definitely the way of Love. I hate to shamelessly plug my blog (kinda), but my post today talks about how God spoke to me this past week. 🙂

  2. Hi beautiful Nikki
    Oh, dear One, how my heart danced with joy when I read this!!! You know by now that I often blog about this: religion vs relationship and how truly incompatible these two are. Sort of like the two wine skins. It is either grace or law, love or duty, self-effort vs resting!!! Thank you soooo… much for sharing this.
    Much love to you
    Mia

    • They really are oil and water, aren’t they, Mia. I’m so ashamed to admit how long it took me to realize this. But am honored to share my story in hopes it helps another. Thank you for reading and encouraging me to do just that!

  3. How lovely that you started your days with Him so early! How I wish I had realized that by filling my mornings with Him and His word it would make the rest of the day flow smoother sooner! Listening is something that I’m still learning – but I can hear Him best in my girls voices. Something about becoming a parent has connected me tighter with my Father.

    How I’ve missed this space! So glad to visit again and listen to your sweet words!

  4. How lovely that you started your days with Him so early! How I wish I had realized that by filling my mornings with Him and His word it would make the rest of the day flow smoother sooner! Listening is something that I’m still learning – but I can hear Him best in my girls voices. Something about becoming a parent has connected me tighter with the One who loves me!

    How I’ve missed this space! So glad to visit again and listen to your sweet words!

  5. What a blessing it is that He calls all to come, listen, seek, and find Him. Wherever we are, in whatever circumstances He finds us, He loves and calls. Thanks for sharing this, Nikki!

  6. Lovely post, Nikki! “I want to see the fibers of You…” oh, how perfect are your words in describing a relationship with our Lord.

    Lacking in attention span and constantly reviewing my to-do list, I have a hard time quieting myself long enough to hear Him. I am, however, noticing that He daily pursues me, catching my attention and drawing me near. Oh, how blessed I am!

    • Thank you, Laurie! You know, I found that “I want to see the fibers in You” in one of my old journals as I was looking back while writing this. I love it, too and intend to use it more often. I don’t know why I stopped!

      And YES! Oh how He pursues us. relentlessly. What a gift.

  7. I just got to know you a little more girl. Thanks for sharing here! Yes, I’ve been a “Christian” for about 25 years {WOW, I’ve actually never added the years up!} and now, right now, so recently… I’m trusting Him more, and able to just listen. ~ Love from Maine Nikki… so thankful for you, Amy

  8. Nikki, Hi!! Love this!! I’m currently behind some of your posts, as I have a guest visiting, however, I found myself with time to join you today and so glad I did. I am in what I consider the newer end of this relationship business with Him, and am finding it worth every moment. So much more still ahead to enjoy with Him.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Donna! How fun to have visitors to share life with today! I am so with you. Yes. It is worth it! Oh how He pursues us. and loves us relentlessly. Let’s enjoy Him together, friend…

  9. Nikki, I absolutely love this. For me, it was a slow and steady stream. I can point to specific moments of hearing that were significant, but learning to listen was more of an experience of growth. I’m still growing.

  10. Every time I visit here, it’s like inhaling deeply of the Savior’s love. These days my ears strive to give their attention to Him first. I have to take some time to capture the noise and put it behind a door. But I am learning to hear Him, among the chaos. I’m leaning and listening!

  11. earlier this year, while home alone folding laundry, God speak a phrase into my spirit. It took me off guard…and confused me a bit. “Eyes to See and Ears to Hear” is what He spoke. I didn’t realize until that moment how little I actually allowed myself to SEE and HEAR. It changed my life…thank you for this chord striking post darling girl!

  12. Just beautiful….oh yes…that wonderful transformation from religion to relationship…He is such a good, loving and patient Friend~ blessings to you my friend~

  13. Nikki, I have found it takes the desire to know Him, to hear His voice, to make my heart be attuned to Him.. . and then, yes, when we recognize it, and know it’s Him, we are never the same. Love your beautiful sharing here, Nikki. Stunning

  14. I’ve missed you, Nikki! So glad I stopped by to visit today. It is so wonderful to start our days with the Lord, isn’t it? I just wished I would have done it sooner in my life. I love the quote from Matthew. So many people truly do not listen to Him. I just pray that everyday I am learning to listen more and let Him come more and more into my heart.

  15. Nikki, this is so beautiful…I think I say that with every post you write! 🙂 What a blessing it is for us to have a relationship with Christ…to hunger for His Word and be filled. So many beautiful, true statements in this. I sense your longing heart for Him and it beckons me to this intimate relationship of my own with the King of Kings. Just beautiful!

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