Meditation Monday – 6 Tips for Listening in the Place of Holy Waiting.

by Christine Sine

Let us sit in the place of holy waiting.001

by Christine Sine.

I am in a season of what I think of as holy waiting. I am sitting in that time between now and not yet where I am very aware of what is behind me but not sure of what lies ahead.  It is holy because I sense it is both God ordained and God directed.

Holy waiting is active waiting, not sitting around hoping God will do something new but actively moving towards the new and listening to God and to others about how that new should be shaped. It is the kind of waiting we need to embrace whenever we are unsure of the path ahead.

Listening in Community

Holy waiting begins with listening. We listen to God. We listen to our own inner promptings and we listen to the wisdom of community. At least we should. Community listening and group discernment, like the Quaker discernment process we adopted in MSA many years ago, are often the most neglected aspect of listening in times of transition and change. Yet in many ways these are the most important.  None of us hear the voice of God clearly 100% of the time. Our cultures, our world views, our leadership styles all get in the way. Friends, colleagues and consultants provide the checks and balances we need to keep us on track,

Listening in community often seems to slow a process down. We want to hurry along and reach the destination but healthy waiting takes time. As we mentioned in our Friday post The Complexity of Transition our listening process for my current transition began several years ago. It has involved many people both within and outside the MSA community. At times it seemed to drag. At times it seemed to grind to a halt. Yet in the background God was always at work, helping us ask the right questions and reach for the right solutions. Without community involvement we may have moved faster but I suspect we would have made more mistakes.

Listening in Repentance and Forgiveness.

One of the hardest questions I have had to ask myself as I prepare to hand over my leadership role is What should I have done differently? It is not an easy question to ask and an even harder one to answer honestly both to myself and to others. To face with honesty and vulnerability the mistakes I have made and the wrong steps I have taken is an important step on the path towards wholeness. Seeking forgiveness from those who may have been hurt in the process is even more important. It frees me up to move forward and it also gives freedom to those who follow me to not be weighed down by the baggage I might leave behind.

Listening through Prayer

This probably seems like the most obvious way to spend our time in a season of holy waiting. Yet often we pray in all the wrong ways. Our prayers are more demands for certain answers than prayers for God’s wisdom and direction. Prayer during a time of holy waiting should be more about active listening than talking, more about looking for the right questions than seeking the right answers. Keep a journal. Write down the questions that come to mind and the and answers you sense God is giving you.

Listening through Serving.

Holy waiting is a time for reaching out to others. How can we serve our neighbours, our colleagues and those around us as we would like to be served? Serving others helps us get our own lives in perspective and not think more highly of ourselves than we should. It liberates us from the need to be in control, often opens our eyes to new ways of thinking and makes us aware of new possibilities that God wants us to imagine.

Jesus constantly gave up power he did not grasp for it.  He refused to allow his followers to make him into the kind of leaders the Jews and Romans specialized in where authority was used to control and often to subjugate others. Jesus leadership model was that of true servanthood.  Through word and example he embodied a different model of leadership.  He rarely told his followers how to do something he asked questions that enabled his disciples to find the answers that God had already placed within their hearts. Serving others helps us to grow into this type of leadership model.

Listening by Striving for Justice

Times of waiting often bring awareness of injustice in our own lives and in the lives of those around us. Sometimes situations that have been festering quietly in the background suddenly spring into life. Waiting clarifies truth. God nudges us to see how we have treated others unjustly, or how we have been treated unjustly and need to speak out. Listening to the still small voices that help us make equitable and just decisions is much easier in times of holy waiting.

Listening through Resting.

Can rest be active you might ask? The answer is yes. Holy waiting means learning to rest in each moment, to savour its beauty and connect to the God who is present in that moment in unique and special ways. This takes intentionality and purpose.Learning to not strive for future success or accomplishment is very countercultural and often seems counterintuitive. As I have mentioned before, our natural tendency is to be non reflective, rushing through life with blinkers on. To change that is an act of the will that does not come easily to us. Yet the rewards are enormous.

What is Your Response?

Sit quietly, take some deep breathes in and out. Consider the places in your life where you feel you are in a process of holy waiting. Or perhaps you are not in a time of holy waiting, but are aware that God wants you to listen in new ways. Watch the video below. Which of the suggestions above most resonates with you as a means of response? What else is God prompting you to do?

Today’s post was inspired by this sermon given by Susan Chloupek at Saint Andrews Episcopal Church in Seattle.

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Michael Moore June 27, 2016 - 8:47 am

This reminds me of the 2014-2015 period in my life where we were discerning God’s call… I appreciate your reflection and am praying with you and Tom! Can’t wait to see what God has in store for the two of you, but of course I can wait!

Christine Sine June 27, 2016 - 8:50 am

Thanks Michael – I think that Tom is clearer than i am about what the future holds. Hopefully the next couple of months will bring more clarity. It is more a matter of what to say no to at this point rather than what to say yes to.

Tamara Fitz-Arling June 28, 2016 - 7:30 am

I too have had periods of waiting, of not being able to see clearly the way forward, and finally of realizing that where I am and what I do each day is a matter of listening inside and being open to whatever it is that happens that day. I appreciate your blog posting. I found this on FB under Celtic Christian Spirituality.

Christine Sine June 28, 2016 - 8:54 am

Thanks Tamara. Yes Celtic Christian Spirituality is one place I often publicize my blog posts as I have found that there is a lot of congruity between what I write and what the Celtic Christians (who have been great teachers for me) believed.

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