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I am passing time in an airport lounge in Oslo. There are various conversations going on around me, some of them too loud to ignore. A lady nearby is having a heated telephone conversation with someone called Robert. She has told Robert that he is a fair-weather friend. She keeps threatening to end the conversation but doesn’t, and more insults have been made. I am not enjoying her conversation, but cannot help listening because she is so LOUD.

Contrast that with my ability to listen to God. He shouldn’t have to shout to catch my attention, yet often I pretend I haven’t heard Him calling to me because I place greater importance on other things. When distractions prevent me from listening to God I become a fair-weather friend, just like Robert in my fellow passenger’s telephone call. A friend of God who is happy to turn up with a shopping list of things I want, but who fails to listen when God presents His shopping list, which is always shorter than mine. For me God’s list looks something like this:

1. Specifically God wants me to put Him first. He wants my attention. Reading the morning newspaper or checking out my Facebook friends can wait until later. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. Psalm 37:7 (NIV)

2. Giving God my attention means listening to Him carefully. Sometimes that means waiting silently in His presence with all distractions and other louder voices put aside. He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.”  “Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” Mark 4: 21-25 (NIV)

3. I must not put my own interpretation on anything God says to me. The key here is discernment, this being a spiritual gift that should be on my shopping list. “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5: 19-22 (NIV)”

I later found out that the loud lady is a television personality. She was seated in front of me on the aircraft. She flaunted the rules and the cabin staff fawned over her. I didn’t recognise her at the time, but I found her behaviour unpleasant. My observations remind me that someone is always watching me. I need to question what they see, what they hear, what they think. Do I truly reflect the investment God has made in me, or the time I spend in His presence? Moses spent so much time in God’s presence that his face glowed. And that’s another item for my shopping list.