Friend to Friend
Fourteen exhausted, sweaty teenage boys plopped down on the bottom step of the gymnasium bleachers—my son being one of them. The assistant Junior Varsity basketball coach paced back and forth, lecturing them on the error of their ways. In the style of Sergeant Carter addressing Gomer Pyle, he yelled, “Who’s talking?”
The boys, in practiced unison, shouted back, “You are, sir!”
“OK then, listen up!” he barked.
For the next twenty minutes, they did just that.
Unfortunately for the merry band of athletes, school is not simply a place where sports are played, but also an institution for academic advancement. The next day it was time to see just how much advancement had taken place in the first four months of school via the dreaded semester exams.
Six of the basketball players sat nervously with their peers on the edge of their seats. Each grasped pencils in hand, ready to attack the twenty-page social studies test. Apparently, someone broke the total silence code with a whisper. The six-foot-five, two-hundred-and-fifty-pound teacher jumped to attention and yelled, “Who’s talking?”
Automatically, without even thinking, Chris Crutchfield, one of the basketball teammates, shot back, “You are, sir!”
The high school freshman social studies class erupted with laughter. Everyone was tickled, except the teacher and the terrified Chris.
“So, you want to be smart, do you?” Mr. Thompson asked. “Who else in here wants to be smart?”
More than half of the class (mostly boys overcome with mischief, my son included) raised their hands. “I want to be smart,” they answered back.
After-school detention was crowded that week.
It was an innocent mistake—an automatic response—a reflex reaction. But it made Chris a hero for the day among his buddies. And in a way, he was my hero as well.
All through the Bible, God tells us to listen to Him. In the Old Testament, Isaiah penned, “Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, ‘This is the way you should go,’ whether to the right or to the left” (Isaiah 30:21 NLT).
In the New Testament, Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27 ESV). And another translation of that verse says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (NIV).
When Moses saw a burning bush in the desert that was not being consumed, he turned aside, stopped what he was doing, and went to investigate. The Bible says, “When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’ And Moses said, ‘Here I am” (Exodus 3:4 NIV)
Ah, there’s the key. Moses turned aside; God had his full attention. Could it be that we become so wrapped up in our daily activities and to-do lists that we don’t take the time to turn aside when God speaks? Could it be we have grown unaccustomed to listening or unbelieving that He will speak at all? I wonder how many burning bushes I’ve missed in my own backyard.
Who’s talking? You are, LORD!
The Bible is also packed with stories about people not listening to God and the fallout that followed. Jeremiah wrote: “Yet they did not listen or pay attention; they were stiff-necked and would not listen or respond to discipline” (Jeremiah 17:23 NIV). “And though the LORD has sent all his servants the prophets to you again and again, you have not listened or paid any attention” (Jeremiah 25:4 NIV). “But I have spoken to you again and again, yet you have not obeyed me” (Jeremiah 35:14b NIV).
Those words give me chills. I don’t want to be that person.
On the other hand, God promises, “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known (Jeremiah 33:3 NIV).
I do want to be that person. I think you do too.
So maybe Chris’s automatic response to the teacher wasn’t such a bad thing after all. When God speaks, let’s be ready to listen. Let’s become women who listen to God’s voice through Scripture, the Holy Spirit, nature, other people, and the circumstance in our lives. Then we will have moments of sudden glory when God makes His presence known right in the middle of our busy days.
Speak Lord, for I am listening. Help me to recognize Your gentle nudges and Your still small voice.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.