Psalm 62:7: “My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.”

People grapple with the God-factor, wondering whether or not He exists and if He does, how to approach Him. There is an endless array of protocol performed in various religious pursuits. The need to feel connected to God is as old as humankind. We cry out to the Creator of the universe: “God, talk to us; please come down to earth and help us; God, please favor us!”

All around the world people seek God’s favor. Trying too hard, they put a lot of effort into breaking down an unlocked door. Heaven’s door is already wide open and much to our surprise God is knocking on our door. He reaches out to us. Turns out, God Himself does all the dirty work. It is the Lord who restores a broken relationship. We may build elaborate temples and do a lot of good works, but all of these efforts do not open heaven’s door. God reaches out to us; our part is simply to respond.

In their language the birds in the air, the predators in the bush and the trees in the jungle cry out to its creator. When the feet of the Lord touch the earth all creation sings, as predicted in the book of Psalms (Psalm 96:12):

“Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
    let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.”

God on earth is not a new concept. It has been advertised in many world religions that God comes down in human form and there’s a reason why: We need God to be near. The good news is that God in fact is near. His Spirit is at work everywhere. Picking up on His signals and learning to walk with Him is the secret to successfully navigating through life.

God has many names, the one I personally love the best is the Hebrew name Emmanuel – God with us. And He is with us when we listen to Him.

Psalm 95:6-7: “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if only you would hear his voice.”

It all starts with a thought. Quoting Melanie Matthews:

“Do you think about reading? What about writing? How about speaking? Do you think about listening? Well, literacy is all four of these things.” * Source: Inside Literacy, Cornerstone Schools; web link: cornerstoneschools.org

Melanie Matthews is a District Literacy Coach at Washington-Parks Academy and Lincoln-King Academy, and she makes a point. Gaining literacy starts with a thought. We want to be able to read. We want to be able to understand written messages. Just think about the impact of reading and writing! More than an additional way to communicate, it helps us connect with people of the past and present. We can read what they wrote down and be inspired. With literacy we learn to master an entire skill-set: reading, writing, listening and speaking. And as a result, a whole new world opens up.

Literacy is based on more than just one factor. So is our walk with God.

Walking with God is a multilayered affair. It starts with expecting that God has something to say. He actually weighs in to anything that matters. And listening to God’s input, we find ourselves under His care. God cannot care for us if we don’t listen to Him. One doesn’t go without the other.

Listening to God is the key to discovering a brand-new world: the Kingdom of God.

We learn the art of lending an impartial and unbiased ear from God Himself because that’s the way He listens. He has no preconceived notions or prejudice. Unfortunately the world lacks good listeners, which is why it has become increasingly illiterate: People misread people, and as a result situations tend to escalate. Reading the Bible without listening to the Lord is another kind of illiteracy leading to a poor reflection of the Lord.

All goodness starts with a key-thought: wanting to know God is one of them. If we want to know Him, we will find and worship Him. Under His care we have everything.

Been listening all the night long
Been listening all the day
Will I listen for the one you know?
Will I listen, will I pray? – Johnny Flynn

Romans 10:17: “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”

Before communication comes listening, otherwise two parties are just blaring sounds at each other. A communication meltdown happens when either party is no longer paying attention to one another. We call that the death of any relationship when this situation arises and continues on an ongoing basis.

Death of relationships is sad, very sad. Gathering the broken pieces of a dead relationship and resurrect a friendship is exactly what God has been pursuing with mankind – by addressing the world with His words and actions. Paying attention to His communication efforts is crucial. We watch God’s body language as we look up to His Son Jesus; and listening to His still small voice we receive His Word. That’s fundamentally what faith is all about. Faith is resurrecting communication with God and restoring a lost family relationship – we are all children of the Most High who have initially lost touch with Heaven, although we can find Him if we’re open and willing to listen. Listening, we will find God and discover that we’re found in Him.

Matthew 4:4: “But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Luke 1:28-29: “Gabriel appeared to her and said, ‘Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!’ Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.”

Is it possible that the Lord is with you, and you’re unaware?  Mary could not make a lot of sense of angel Gabriel’s greeting. She was shocked both by his appearance and the way he greeted her. An unassuming teenage girl, the words: “Favored woman – the Lord is with you” seemed out of proportion. Evidently, the way Mary viewed herself did not match how the angel viewed her – or how God viewed her for that matter. Sounds familiar? Self-awareness is a most tricky thing.

Unaware of ourselves on the day we were born, we first become self-aware as toddlers.  Lewis and Brooks-Gun conducted some interesting research in 1979 when they applied a red dot to an infant’s nose and then held the child up to a mirror. About 25 percent of the infants between 15 and 18 months showed some self-awareness as they reached for their noses instead for the mirror to examine the red dot in their face. In comparison, the percentage increased to 70 percent when the children were 21 to 24 months old.

While self-awareness is certainly age-related, spiritual awareness isn’t. It’s the moment we notice God for the very first time when we become spiritually aware. God on the other hand has never taken His eyes off of us, from the moment of our conception right up to the present time, as King David prayed so eloquently (Psalm 139:13-16):

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.”

How freeing it is to understand that we are priceless in the eyes of God – without having to lift a finger! God cherishes us, regardless how we feel about ourselves. This is the truth that sets us free; however, we won’t know the truth, unless we listen.

Mary listened to what angels, prophets, and shepherds had to say and thoroughly worked through their message in her mind. We need to do the same. Whenever God speaks to us, we do well to let the message sink in. God still speaks today. He speaks to you and me. We only need to take notice.

Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.” Deuteronomy 6:4