Does He call you as He called Samuel, out loud by name? Or does He send an angel, as He did to Mary? Has He asked you to be fishers of men, like some of the disciples? How does He call you? Can you hear the call of the Spirit today in all your busyness, in spite of your worries about the economy and the world? Are you listening for God’s call in the events of your life, in the people you meet, in the books that you read? Are you quieting yourself inside and making time in order to hear what He is trying to bring to your attention? Does nature deliver messages from the Spirit to you? How does He call you?
I believe through my own experience that God calls us continually throughout our days in little things and big. He is sending up “flares” all the time to capture our attention, which is often hard to capture. A friend suggests a book, do you pay attention and get the book from the library? There’s a whisper inside you that wants you to go in a new direction. Do you listen and entertain the idea, or do you push it away? In a conversation with a difficult person do you hear an interior voice offer an alternative way of dealing with him or her, not your normal resistance? Do you look to the Lord to direct your life?
These are just a few ways that the Holy Spirit tries to gain our attention. If you are listening regularly, even daily, for what God wants you to do and say, if you pray before a difficult decision or meeting and ask for His help, if you turn your worries over to Him regularly, then you will see in how many ways Christ is trying to communicate with you. Silence is the ground of your relationship with God, it is necessary beyond all things; without regular periods of silence you will miss most all of the ways that God calls you. And if you don’t heed His calls, your life and your relationship with Him will stagnate.
Silence comes in many packages, but it is not a natural state for us. So often we run from silence because in the quiet we have only our own negativity to listen to—that repetitive tape in our minds that drives us away. There are two ways to deal with that tape. First, there are techniques to focus on —a mantra or paying attention to your breathing in and out– that distract the mind. Of course, after a while you may find yourself thinking again those negative thoughts, then you just go back, without recriminations, to the practice—the breath or the words. Secondly, you practice listening to the negative tape without getting hooked into the emotions they can evoke. It’s like sitting on a riverbank and just watching the “river,” the negative thinking, go by. In either case with practice the mind opens to the silence and you find that silence is not the absence of sound, but is a palpable presence of its own. Sitting in silence can be a meditative practice, contemplative prayer or musing, it can be formal or casual, but the more often it is practiced, the more you will be able to hear what Christ is calling you to at any time. The calls don’t necessarily come in the silence, but practicing silence helps us hear the calls when they do come. How does Christ call you?