Posted in Discernment, Gifts of Contemplation, God, Inspiration, Mystics

Listening to God – Guest Blogger Bill Tonnis

Today’s blog post comes from Bill Tonnis, musician, pastoral minister, hospital chaplain (in training) and contemplative.  Thank you Bill for pointing out the unexpected ways that God finds us and calls us to ourselves and to our purpose in this life.  See Bill’s bio below, but more importantly, check out Bill’s website for his music and to learn more about his journey! 

Listening to God

Bill Tonnis 001

Praying is something I did a lot of in my life…but it was all “one-way” praying as in ME doing all the talking and God doing all the listening. It wasn’t until I was quite miserable with how I had engineered my life that I actually listened to what God might have to say. It took a flood…literally…for me to shut up and listen. After covering the major flood of the Ohio River the entire first week of March in 1997 as a radio news journalist, I sank into my couch at home and in total exhaustion and misery from a lack of fulfillment I simply told God, “I give up.” It was in the silence of my surrender that I “heard” in my heart a voice that said, “Get your guitar.” This made no sense since I hadn’t even touched that guitar in ten years and had hardly played it since I was a teen. But the experience was so strong that I couldn’t deny it. Fast-forward 16 years later and I am: releasing my third album of original Contemporary Christian Music; have a web site and daily devotional on my blog titled “Today’s Contemplation; have completed a Masters Degree in Religious Studies; have become a youth minister and music minister; am halfway through Clinical Pastoral Education (chaplaincy training); and my whole life is built around “listening” to God speak to me in the silence.

It seems so counter-intuitive in our culture to simply sit in silence and listen. There is no “doing”…just “being.” I’m sure you’ve heard the clever line about us being human “beings” and not human “doings”…but there is a profound truth there. One of the major influences in my contemplative journey has been the Catholic Monk Thomas Merton. I found a kindred spirit to help lead me from following my “false self” to discovering my “true self.” Never mind that Merton has been dead for nearly 50 years. The words of his books spoke directly to my soul. Lectio Divina each morning followed by a quiet time of centering prayer made all the difference. While I have no idea what God has in store for me next…the inner peace and fulfillment I am finding in each moment makes the journey an exciting adventure. As I pursue God in the silence…my false self diminishes while my true self rises.

Bill Tonnis, formerly a radio journalist, now works as the Pastoral Associate for Outreach at Our Lady of the Visitation Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.  He shares his talent and testimony at schools, churches, meetings, conferences, youth groups and retreats. He has created a ministry presentation titled “Listen – Live – Give… Find Your Voice” focusing on how to live your calling and to be disciples for Christ.  In 2007, Bill Tonnis released his debut CD titled LISTEN TO YOUR HEART. His follow-up CD, titled LIVE TO LOVE was released in 2009. Then in 2013, Bill’s third album titled GIVE PRAISE AND THANKS was released. The songs on these projects represent a variety of musical styles, but the constant theme is that it is never too late to find YOUR voice…to become your “true self” and to help build the kingdom of God.


I am a trained, professional Spiritual Director, Author and Hands-on Healer. I offer services, programs and classes that empower you to hear the voice of the Divine that speaks from within you. It is the voice of the Divine that leads us to our highest truth, to the discovery and cultivation of our gifts and to a life of Authentic Freedom where we know contentment, compassion and joy. Your truth will set you free!

4 thoughts on “Listening to God – Guest Blogger Bill Tonnis

  1. Thank you for sharing your story! It served as a reminder to me this morning. The difference between “being” and “doing” is something that I’ve been becoming more aware of. Blessings!

  2. Oh my goodness. Replace “get your guitar” with “write books” and I could have written that sentence. And then look where those three words led you. This to me is one of the jaw-dropping miracles of the contemplative life: how the subtle, even elusive voice of God, heard in the privacy of our souls, can have such thunderous, life-changing (even world-changing?) results.

  3. Bill,

    I appreciate your willingness to let-go and be open to the voice of God. That, to me, takes tremendous courage. It’s so encouraging to hear how well it has guided your life.


  4. Thank you for sharing. I also have learned the marvelous truth in simply “being”. Being quiet before the Lord and hearing His voice provide direction, support, solace — basically whatever you need at the moment. It also took me many year and many trials to learn to shut up and listen and give God a chance to talk. How rich life has been ever since.

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