Reading v. Hearing: My Journey
by Billie Meadors
CRBC member, Bible teacher and Single Moms Leader
Once upon a time in 1980, there was a girl (actually she was a fully-grown woman and mother of two by then) who accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior and immediately began teaching children’s Sunday School. She continued to teach Sunday School for the next thirty years, but she did graduate to teaching in the Student Ministry after twenty-one years.
Sometimes, when I think on the reality of what I just shared about myself, I wonder how in the world I could have spent so many years exposed to Scripture but not actually hearing what God wanted me to learn. All I know is that about half way through those thirty years, I needed to hear His voice, not just read my Bible, and that’s when everything changed for me.
When I first became a Christian at age twenty-five, while attending a good ol’-fashioned fellowship at Trinity Baptist Church in Yukon, a very kind and distinguished looking gentleman named Gaylon Richey engaged me in conversation. I couldn’t tell you anything else he said to me, except that he pointed to his Bible and said, “I want you to know there is not one thing that will happen in your life that this book doesn’t hold the answer to. God speaks to us through His word.”
It wasn’t until 1996 that I remembered those words. I found myself in the unimaginable position in life as a single mom to three kids. And not only that, but my previously healthy-minded, well-adjusted, straight-A, youth-group-loving kids were turning to drugs and anorexia to cope with their pain. I needed answers. I needed to hear God’s voice. I needed unshakable belief that He was with me, and that He was with my kids, and I needed an increase in my faith (Romans 10:17). That’s when I believe God used Gaylon’s words to “renew my life by leading me along the right path [of studying His word and hearing His voice], for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3 HCSB).
I began with fifteen-minute daily devotionals, but before long, I truly believe it was God who gave me a thirst for more and a desire to dig deeper so I joined our ladies’ Bible study. I have never regretted taking that step, and I have never stopped going to a Bible study. What I’ve learned is that there is a difference between reading and studying. Studying involves a few things like scheduling and investing time (for me this meant backing up the alarm clock), creating a quiet place, and meditating and listening. I want to hear what God is saying to me, not just read the Bible.
God has built in me a love for His word and a love for getting up early every morning and spending time with Him. For me, early morning works best since my mind is rested. I wish I was a ball of energy at the end of the day, but I’m more like a ball with a flat by then. It doesn’t matter when we come to His word, but that we come. At the hour I get up, I like imagining that I’ve come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses and that the whole world is still asleep. I make it a point not to check any headlines or the latest Thunder score (challenging!), but just come to His word with a mind that’s as unpolluted as I can make it and with a great cup of coffee. One of the most valuable tips about hearing God’s voice comes from our own Pastor Rick. He tells us each week to ask God what it is He wants us to learn. I like to read a passage in at least three translations, each time asking the Holy Spirit to reveal to me what He hears (John 16:13) that I need to learn. And then I listen...and read again and listen more if needed. What I’ve learned is that if I’m patient and keep asking and listening, He is faithful to His own word in Jeremiah 33:3. He truly will tell us great and unsearchable things we do not know! He wants this for us, so ask and then patiently listen.
If you're not spending daily time reading God's word, I encourage you to start, even if all you can give is fifteen minutes. God will pull you deeper and increase your desire for more. If you are spending daily time reading God's word, I encourage you to commit to exercise learning to really listen for what He has to say to you. It is worth every habit you have to replace or reorganize your day in order to spend time with Him. It will strengthen your faith and ready you for those times of “trials and sorrows” (John 16:33) that He promises and for which we need Him.
I’m so grateful for Gaylon Richey’s boldness in sharing his wisdom with me when I was so young about the value of not just reading, but hearing God speak through His word. Gaylon is in Heaven now. I would love to have been watching when he heard the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
Author biography: I’m just a woman on the journey of life who loves God and His word, family, friends, my golden retriever Noble, CRBC and Iced Triple Grande-Two Pump-Nonfat- No Whip-Light Iced-White Chocolate Mochas. If I could have my way, I’d live in the mountains where drinking coffee by a stream is the closest thing to heaven I can imagine!