Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Piping Turkey

Bruce Olson was a missionary to the Motilone tribe in Colombia and recounts an experience during a Motilone hunting expedition: 

"Our intrusion into the jungle that day brought the usual reaction from assorted birds and monkeys, but as we quietly slipped through the dense undergrowth, I noticed a sudden escalation in the volume and intensity of the cacophony. Thousands of katydids joined the animal squawks and screeches, raising the noise level to the point where our human voices were drowned out. I had never heard anything like it. 

"Astonished, I shouted to the Motilone ahead of me on the trail, "Listen to that! Isn't it incredible?"

"He nodded. "Yes," he called back. "We heard it, too. It's a piping turkey." 

"His remark stopped me in my tracks. A piping turkey? All I had heard was chaotic, ear-shattering racket! How could anyone notice the voice of one lone turkey in the midst of this din?

"My companions saw my confusion and signaled me to stop and listen. It was several minutes before I began to pick out which sounds were which--animals, birds, insects, humans. Then, slowly, the separate voices became more distinct. Finally, after more patient listening, I heard it. Behind the hue and cry of the jungle, behind the voices of my companions, behind the quiet sound of my own breathing, was the haunting, reedy voice of the piping turkey, calling out as if it were inside a hollow tube. 

"It was a poignant moment for me. I wondered what else I'd missed--not only in the jungle, but also in my own spiritual life. How much had I overlooked when I'd failed to patiently tune in to God's subtle voice in the midst of life's chaos and stresses? 

"In the years that followed, the piping turkey often came to mind when I struggled to discern God's voice and sense His quiet presence during perplexing or discouraging situations. Over time, I developed the patience to see and hear God in the subscripts of life. And I learned from experience that even when I couldn't sense what He was doing, I could trust that He was always there, always working out His sovereign will, even when I was too overwhelmed by the "noise" to notice or appreciate His complex orchestrations." 

--From Bruchko and the Motilone Miracle by Bruce Olson with James Lund, chapter 11.


Are you unable to hear God's voice? Are you unable to feel close to Him? Does the Bible seem to bounce off of your consciousness without penetrating? 

Maybe, like in the Motilone jungle, the volume and intensity of your life has suddenly increased. 

Here at Ellerslie, I have seen the value of cutting out distractions in order to be able to more easily detect and listen to God. 

God is worth listening to! His voice is worth hearing! What He wants with my life is worth knowing.

So here's a suggestion. Stop and listen. It doesn't have to be forever, but stop long enough to actually hear what God is saying. 

Turn the volume down. 

Try a week with no headphones, no music, no ipod, no apps, no games, no TV, no movies, no internet, and none of the other optional activities that you can cut out. 

While you're enjoying the silence, just listen. Listen hard. Listen like you're trying to pick out the piping turkey from the cacophony of the jungle sounds. Listen for God's voice. Pick up His word and read it hungrily. Read it to obey. Read it and let it sink deep into your soul. 

You might be surprised to find you can actually hear.

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