I have recently taken up running.  I hate running.  I have never enjoyed it.  While I understand the need for the skill if you are a professional athlete, being chased by a rabid wolverine, or trying to catch the ice cream truck, I have never been able to force myself to do it.

Lately, however, I have found a trick that helps.  By listening to music when I run, it somehow becomes slightly more tolerable.  If I can focus on the music, I forget about the pain and boredom that comes with running. 

Yet, I am finding out that I am not a huge fan of having my ears plugged-up.  I like to be aware of my surroundings.  I like to be alert and conscious of what is going on.  I somehow feel vulnerable when my headphones are on (or ear buds are in, depending on your particular ear preferences).

That’s why I don’t understand why every student I run into around my office has something plugging-up their ears.  It seems like they are all listening to that new-fangled rap music or using a hands-free talking device so that their walk to class will never approach the boredom that comes with just going for a walk.  But I am starting to catch on.  I believe I have figured out the real reason that they put on headphones as soon as each class has ended.

They don’t want to talk to anybody.

I could go on and on about why that is, about how technologies have made face-to-face conversations archaic and uncomfortable.  However, I would feel like a hypocrite.  No, I don’t walk around with my Beats by Dre headset on.  But there are times when I put up a “Do Not Disturb” sign.  And while it is healthy for me to have time to myself, that’s probably not a sign I should ever put between me and God.

That seems to be what many of us do, though.  We put on proverbial “headphones” to send the message that we don’t want to talk to God.  We would never say it like that, of course.  We say that we are busy, or that it's a bad time, or that something came up, or that we are focusing on other areas of ministry.  While we don’t always do it on purpose (sometimes, we do), Christians have gotten pretty good at keeping God at a distance.

How do we communicate with God? 

We read the Bible.  But many of us do not spend time in it every day, and sometimes not even every week.  We get busy or behind at work and convince ourselves that it can wait.  We essentially put God on hold.  Not cool.

We pray.  This may be the easiest way to communicate with Him, but many of us still don’t do it regularly.  And when we do, we go through the motions, cover our bases, and get back to the things that we think are important enough to focus on.  And the vast majority of us are quick to forget that listening is often the most important part of prayer.  We say our part and move on to the next task.  That's not a conversation.  It is a monologue. 

We worship.  Like prayer, going through the motions is a big problem for worship.  We also tend to put worship in a box and assume it can only take place during the music portion of our church services.  Worship can and does happen anywhere and everywhere in a very genuine way.  We just need to get out of our own way.

We serve.  What?  You don’t communicate with God through service?  I beg to differ.  When we serve as we are called, God not only speaks to us but through us to others.  It is an amazing way to experience Him.  However, we often use service as an excuse not to communicate with God.  We bury ourselves in ministry in such a way that we never take the time to experience God for ourselves.  And accountability is difficult in these settings because, since you are serving with great dedication, it seems as though everything is okay.  That’s why we need to get back to ripping our robes

Fellowship.  One of the most powerful ways to experience God and communicate with Him is through our Christian brothers and sisters.  We learn about God, we see God work, and we experience His love.  We are created to spend time with one another, and when we choose to exclude ourselves we end up growing further away from God because we are unable to feel His love through that part of His purpose for creation.

There are so many ways that we rebel against or completely ignore these methods for communicating with God.  By not fully engaging in these practices, we are essentially putting up a “Do Not Disturb” sign between us and God.  Please, take down that sign and have a conversation with God.  And for goodness sake, take off those headphones and have a conversation with another human being.

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