I'm at the zoo playground area and scanning my eyes back and forth, up and down for the chance to glimpse my daughter running from cargo net to slide, to wooden tower to bridge to swing. There, I find myself smiling as I see her curly hair bobbing past me while she chases after an older little girl on a fun mission. She is rosy cheeked and has a grin of pure joy plastered to her face.
The area of the playground is very large and there are kids swarming like ants on an anthill just after you jabbed a stick into it. The difference is the sound. Watching the ants would be a rather silent affair except for the rustling of trees and an occasional bird, but this zoo playground is a cacophony of squeals, shouts and yelling, parents calling children's names, a nearby zoo exhibit's T-Rex roar, the whooping of the very noisy Gibbon Monkeys who are right next to the park, the pounding of feet as kids run across the jangle-y bridge. It is loud.
I hear little girls occasionally calling for their mothers or fathers from afar off and I wonder at my brain being able to pick out those cries among all of the other noises. Then I wonder even further at the knowledge that my brain knew at once that those little girls were not my little girl. A few minutes later I heard the sweet, excited rise and fall of a girl's voice and know, "there she is, that is the voice of my daughter." Sure enough, in a blur, I see her run past me, about 20 feet in front of me, while she jabbers with the other little girl she is playing with.
Now, how does my brain do it? How did it pick out those few notes of her run by sentence and grab a hold of them, identifying them as the ones to pay attention to? The ones that mattered?
I suppose it comes from years (3 years and 10 months to be exact) of listening to the emission of sound rolling past her tiny vocal chords. I have practiced the listening, the turning of my head, the leaning in, the pausing, the hushing, and the identifying of her voice to the point where now I hear her amidst the craziest of sounds. My ears are tuned to the frequency of "Scarlett's Voice" and now that is the voice that catches my attention. That is the voice that makes my heart beat a little faster and a smile pull and the corners of my mouth.
This reminds me of when Elijah picked out God's voice amidst the wind, earthquake and fire in 1 Kings 19, knowing that God was not in the tumult but His was the still small voice that followed. I think on that moment and wonder at how he knew. It's not that God couldn't have been in the wind or the earthquake or the fire but for that moment, with Elijah, he just chose not to be, and Elijah, being the God listener, knew it. He heard.
I felt my chest swell with motherly pride at the thought of being able to pick out my daughters voice from such a mayhem of sound as the zoo's park but can I say I also so easily hear my Heavenly Father's voice? Have I worked at listening, leaning in, quieting, focusing on His voice so that when the noise of life shakes and crashes and thumps and beats and alarms around me I can still pick it out? I can still hear what He would have to say to me? Can I hear enough to even run towards it?
C. S. Lewis has said something that has lingered within my chest causing a dull ache there for some time and last night I realized why. He said, "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world." I sat in bed last night and worried that I would need the megaphone in my life in order to hear God shouting to me. The megaphone of pain. I laid there arguing with Him that it is not fair that it takes pain for us to hear Him and then I remembered the first half of the Lewis quote: "God whispers to us in our pleasures." Ah! He is always speaking but I have to be finely tuned to His voice if I am to hear the whisper of it in those times of pleasure in my life. I need to be aurally scanning the hum around me so that I can be quick to respond when His whispers begin. He is a God who will be heard, my part is deciding when and how I will listen.
Reading the scriptures, praying, meditating, discussing this God listening life with those around me, learning about who He is from others who are further down the road than I am, these are some of the ways that I will be able to identify my Savior's voice. So these are what I am focused on.
I don't like to be shouted at, so I will be a listener.