During my season of parenting teenagers, there was one thing I could always count on — inconvenient conversations.
Just as I was nodding off or felt beyond exhausted, one of my teens chose to begin a meaningful conversation. Suddenly, words poured forth freely, and the opportunity to truly connect arrived. These conversation opportunities opened up to me late at night, when we were running late, or just as someone else was about to arrive at our house.
Every, single time.
When I paused and took the time to listen, I was always rewarded with new insight and connection. Sometimes, I was too focused on my agenda and failed to do this well.
Ironically, things don’t change much when you are parenting young adults. Chances are good they will call you when you don’t have time to talk. Taking that time anyway will bless you, I promise.
God calls us into conversations that might not always fit into our ideal schedules.
Have you ever noticed how the book of Psalms is formatted as a call and response or a conversation with God? Psalm after psalm draws our hearts into dialogue with Him. He leads, and we can follow. But do I miss some of these fantastic ways to connect? Do I always answer God’s calls?
In the second half of Psalm 9, David reminds me to praise the LORD.
11 Sing praises to the LORD, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds! 12 For he who avenges blood is mindful of them; he does not forget the cry of the afflicted. (Psalm 9:11-12 ESV)
God calls us to a conversation with Him and then with each other in our community.
How might my daily conversations with others look and sound different if I started each day by talking to God first? Beginning each day with praise would likely lift my spirits and fill me with resilient joy.
“Tell among the peoples his deeds” is a repeated phrase in the Bible. As God’s people, we are commanded to share our testimonies about how He has worked in our lives. God requires this activity because testimonies shared in the community nourish and strengthen our souls. We need stories of God’s faithfulness to help us remain faithful in difficult times.
13 Be gracious to me, O LORD! See my affliction from those who hate me, O you who lift me up from the gates of death, 14 that I may recount all your praises, that in the gates of the daughter of Zion I may rejoice in your salvation. (Psalm 9:13-14 ESV)
God calls us to honest conversation with Him.
Telling God about my suffering and what is troubling me provides a healthy and safe release for my concerns. He is always ready to listen.
Just as He listens to me, I must leave space to hear from Him. All too often, my prayers sound like a monologue. I must intentionally pause and leave room to listen in order to hear from Him.
Recounting the praises of God serves to remind me about who He is in my life. A wonderful recounting praises exercise is to work through the alphabet using each letter as personal praise prompt.
A – I serve an almighty God
B- God’s love is boundless
C- God’s care for my loved ones and I is beyond my understanding.
Can you get to Z? Here’s a link to print out a praise list to begin your day.
15 The nations have sunk in the pit that they made; in the net that they hid, their own foot has been caught. 16 The LORD has made himself known; he has executed judgment; the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands. Higgaion. Selah 17 The wicked shall return to Sheol, all the nations that forget God. 18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever. (Psalm 9:15-18 ESV)
God calls us to a conversation with those in need.
Who are the needy? We all are sooner or later.
I was congratulating a friend on completing a particularly rigorous program. We discussed the new job she had been offered. Much to my surprise, I realized I had stepped into her season of significant loss. While she had achieved a big goal, her heart’s desire was denied again. The very thing she had worked toward had slipped just out of reach. The new job offer felt to her very much like a consolation prize.
How could I respond to someone sitting in loss?
When I see a person experiencing a time of suffering due to disappointments stacked high, how can I leave room for her to express her story?
It’s far too easy for me to reframe it or deny it. This creates a comfortable distance for me. I don’t wish to think of or see unfairness or suffering up close.
“Helpful” phrases spring to my lips, “It’s not that bad.” “God will work it out.” While there could be a ring of truth to these responses, they are designed to make me feel better, not her.
Could I make space for this woman to feel what she feels and tell her story as it currently is, not as we all wish it were?
Lord, help me to do this better.
Sooner or later, we will all experience seasons of need and poverty. In those times, it feels almost impossible to cling to hope. God promises, in verse 18, that disappointment will not be our permanent residence. We will see restoration.
19 Arise, O LORD! Let not man prevail; let the nations be judged before you! 20 Put them in fear, O LORD! Let the nations know that they are but men! Selah (Psalm 9:19-20 ESV)
God calls us to conversations with Him first, then ourselves, and finally with a watching world.
If you have watched the news lately, we might agree that some nations, and more importantly, their leaders, must be reminded of their actual status.
We can pray for bad leaders to fear the LORD and realize they are merely men (flawed humans in need of God’s redemption) and not all-powerful despots able to swallow up other nations. Even when these leaders don’t acknowledge the LORD, He will arise.
Some days I am preaching the truth of God’s word and His promises to my own heart and mind. I struggle with anxiety and can become overwhelmed by the constant onslaught of crises communicated in the 24/7 news cycle.
When someone expresses fear, how do I respond? Do I try to outdo a report of doom with my update? Or do I describe the certainty that God will arise and put things right?
Now, perhaps more than ever, as believers, we have an opportunity to begin each day with intentional soul tending.
- We are setting aside time in our schedule to soak in God’s word.
- Listening for His voice and intentionally leaving space and time to listen.
- Praising Him.
- We are speaking to Him before we talk to others.
- I was listening to others and allowing the margin for them to express sadness.
- We were peppering our conversations with others with gentle reminders of the character of God.
Do you take time for conversations? I would love to hear how you bring this into practice in your own life.