Hearing God's Word

I will stand my watch
And set myself on the rampart,
And watch to see what He will say to me,
And what I will answer when I am corrected.
Habakkuk 2:1 (NKJV)

A friend of mine said to me recently: ‘The only thing holding me together is perpetual motion.’ She felt that life had become so pressured that, if she were to stop, she would collapse. Many of us feel like that. Finding the opportunity to step aside from the distracted restlessness of our world and of our hearts is a vital ingredient in living the life of faith. But it’s not easy, is it?

You might remember that Habakkuk was living in Jerusalem, a city which was characterised by moral and spiritual decline. It was chaotic. So he decided to climb the steps and to stand on the city walls. He needed a clear view of what was happening, a restored perspective. He wanted to climb above the streets, above the demands of life in the city. And he said: ‘I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me’ (Habakkuk 2:1). He longed to hear God’s Word, and it was this revelation that completely changed his life.

Many of us have found that moments of quiet retreat in the summer can be life-changing moments. I’ve found that to be true in the Lake District town of Keswick. For over 140 years, Christians have gathered there from different denominations, cultures, and generations, but all with the same longing – to hear God’s Word, to enter his presence and to be transformed by his Spirit.

One early visitor was a man called F. B. Meyer, and he recalled vividly his first experience as a Keswick speaker in 1887. During a late-night Convention prayer meeting, he realised he felt too weary from overwork to think or to pray. He ‘shot out under the curtain’ of the Keswick tent and went out of the town and up the hill. The stars and the lake were both shining and, as he climbed the fells, he sensed that he received the Spirit like the breath of the wind. He said to himself: ‘As I breathe in the air, so my spirit breathes in the fullness of the Holy Spirit.’

It can truly have a significant effect on our lives – hearing God’s Word, experiencing God’s Spirit, being with God’s people, and enjoying God’s creation. My first experience of a week at the Keswick Convention was less dramatic but just as real, as God called me to give my life to his service.

The summer can be a great time for refreshment or recreation, for energetic service in support of others, or for rich experiences of God’s good creation. But one thing we must find above all else: like Habbakuk in the midst of a broken world, we need to hear God’s Word.

Moments of retreat – whether a holiday break, a Convention like Keswick, or just some quiet hours away from normal activity – can be truly significant as we open scripture, and hear God’s life-changing Word. ‘He who has ears to hear’, Jesus urged, ‘let them hear.’ If we’re to live for him, nothing matters more than this.

Jonathan Lamb
Minister-at-large for Keswick Ministries

Jonathan is the minister-at-large for Keswick Ministries. The Keswick Convention expects to welcome 15,000 Christians this summer, and the theme is ‘Captivated: Hearing God’s Word’. There’s a great programme for all ages, and it’s free of charge. More information here: https://keswickministries.org/convention/2017