Setting our Gaze

“Taste and see that the Lord is good...”

Psalm 34:8a

In Ted’s sermon a few weeks ago, he spoke to us about listening to God. For those of us who want to hear God more, we may have this question on our heart: How do we do hear God more?

One thing Ted covered was removing distractions from our life. But how do we know if something is a distraction?

When we partake of it, we don’t feel refreshed.

In Ephesians 3:19, Paul prays that the church “may be filled up with all the fullness of God.” Psalms 16:11 says, “In your presence is fullness of joy.”

When we do something that is of God, we are filled to fullness! If we are not experiencing fullness from something, we may need to consider it as not of God in this season.

When I was in middle school and high school, I read a lot. I mean, a lot. I read several books a week. Sometimes one a night. It took up a lot of my time. I was still involved in a lot of other areas. I did musicals at schools. I led Bible studies in my youth group. But when I moved to college, God started to tell me to stop reading so much. I’d try to read, and I would feel empty. I wouldn’t feel as moved as before. So I’d read more, to try and get the same effect as I had previously.

This is the heart of binging. I would feel just as, if not more, empty, discouraged, and distanced from something that once blessed me. And for a time, I didn’t understand what was going on.

God took reading away to make space for himself. Reading isn’t inherently bad. Most parents would rejoice if their kids were reading. But God had something different planned for me.

1 Corinthians 6:12 says, “All things are permissible for me, but not all things are beneficial.” I was experiencing God removing his blessing on something to lead me to greater blessing: to the substance of the shadow of joy I had found in books, just as Christ is the substance of the shadow of things we find on earth (Col. 2:17).

Ask God: “Are there any things in my life that do not fill me?” When you eat and are not filled. When you read yet only want to read more. When you watch a movie or a TV episode and only feel a need for more.

When God gives his answer, ask what He would have you do with that distraction. He may have you moderate it more. For example, I have come to only watch movies or a TV series when I’m with other people. Or he may ask you to throw out the distraction completely. I did this with sugar for a few months during my senior year of college. I saw that, when I ate sugar, I didn’t feel satisfied. I only wanted more. And I wanted that more to come from God.

Once the distraction is dealt with as God leads, we have more space inside. Most likely, it will feel awkward. We will feel uncomfortable. And we won’t know how God will fill that space.

This is the time for us to seek God.

For me, when I don’t know what to do, I sit on my couch. I stare at my wall or window, and I say, in my head or heart, “God.”

From there, God moves me toward him. Different things happen each time. I sometimes sit and stare and just listen and wait for a long while. I have been moved to read a spiritual book, pray a specific prayer, listen to a song, journal a thought, or meditate on a passage of scripture.

To be filled with the fullness of God and to hear his voice, we first need to make space in our hearts for him! Let us do so expectantly.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good;

blessed is the one who takes refuge in him! ”

      Psalm 34:8

About the Author: Allison Downing is a massage therapy student at Schoolcraft College and waitress at Zola Bistro. When she isn't doing these two things, she's probably doing something around Antioch. She loves prayer, worship, and spending time with her connect group and discipleship school classmates!