Day 26: Opening our heart to God’s voice
I’m an avid reader. I’m looking at my nightstand right now—a modest stack of books on top, another pile next to it. If you walked into my office, you would see the same--piles of books, great and small, all beckoning to be read.
Though I am an serious reader and can’t imagine having a serious appetite for God without enlarging my appetite through reading, I don’t always read to hear—I read to read. I know the difference. For me, I am reading just to read when I gloss over the words on the page as if I’m in a race to reach the bottom of the page, the next page or the end of the chapter.
When I read to hear, I am more deliberate and measured. I stop at profound sentences and re-read them. I write notes in the margin; underline sentences; place question or exclamation marks off to the side. That’s when I am reading to digest. I am reading to nourish my hunger for God.
This week, I received an email from the Henri Nouwen society—something a friend of mine put me on to. I love Nouwen’s thoughts and musings and this quote was about spiritual reading—reading to hear. Here is what he had to say:
“Reading often means gathering information, acquiring new insight and knowledge, and mastering a new field. It can lead us to degrees, diplomas, and certificates. Spiritual reading, however, is different. It means not simply reading about spiritual things but also reading about spiritual things in a spiritual way. That requires a willingness not just to read but also to be read, not just to master but to be mastered by words. As long as we read the Bible or a spiritual book simply to acquire knowledge, our reading does not help us in our spiritual lives. We can become very knowledgeable about spiritual matters without becoming truly spiritual people.
As we read spiritually about spiritual things, we open our hearts to God's voice. Sometimes we must be willing to put down the book we are reading and just listen to what God is saying to us through its words.” Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey
Keep reading. But not only that, keep reading to hear God's voice.