The arena quiets while the rider enters. It is a short stint in self control until the first maneuver begins. No matter what it is, there will be noise at the outset. The crowd comes to life and cheers its approval and encouragement and frankly, the louder the better! Circles, spins, lead changes or stops - they all illicit a din of response. It can be deafening to be certain. With so much noise it can also be hugely distracting.
Those competitors that have truly succeeded in the pen, the ones who have stepped out and really made an impact will often tell you that they hear only one thing when they are competing. They hear only their coach. There is no cheering crowd, no thundering applause, no music or whistling. They hear only the encouragement, instruction and critique of the one person they have tuned their ears to for their entire competition career. Everything else is silenced.
What would my life be like if I did that with God? What would I accomplish if, instead of consulting every Tom, Dick and Harry, instead of scouring Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram, instead of reading all manner of self-help articles, I actually tuned my ears to listen to ONE coach - GOD?
I have been there too many times. Faced with something that I need to research and get an answer on I sit down at the computer, Google up some results and before I know it, not only do I not have an answer to the question I originally sat down to ask, but I have dozens more questions and some aren't even remotely related to the original topic! It is what happens when I cut God out of the equation on life decisions as well. I stop listening to the coach, I try to do things my way and I get confused. It can be discouraging and at the very least, distracting.
The good news is this: God is still standing at the gate. He is still speaking to my heart, but He refuses to compete with the noises of the World. God knows that to get my attention He must speak quieter than the rest, not louder. Only then will I tune out the roar of the crowd and focus on what it is He is teaching me in that moment. Only then will He have my heart, soul and ears to accomplish His means.
It takes practice, this focus I am talking about. It means shutting out the well meaning advice of a friend. It means not Googling, reading or listening to the radio for my inspiration or answers. It means developing a habit of coming to God first, instead of last. It isn't an easy answer. It isn't terribly popular or trendy. But like the wooden pencil, it's so simple it works.
My husband told me once that he could hear his riding coach speak in a normal tone of voice above the noise of a full house crowd from deep in the stands. I found it hard to believe. How could he pick out that one small voice in a sea of distraction and tumult? "I knew his voice so well," he said, "I just could." You see, he practiced listening to that voice. He recognized it in the turmoil because he'd listened to it in the quiet first. I see now that in order to hear God speak to me when the World is crashing down around me, I first have to practice listening to Him when it's quiet. I can only pick out His voice if I know it intimately. I can do this through prayer, quiet time and bible study, but I have to do it if I am to recognize it when He speaks.
Lord, let me be so close to you, so familiar with the sound of your guidance and instruction, that I can pick your voice out of the din of my very noisy world. Let me hear you and heed you, no matter what is going on around me. Let me always be comforted by the utterances of your infinite wisdom. ONE VOICE... Yours.