I've been on a quest to make sense of the confusing, stretching, and downright unpleasant things that have been happening in my life over the last several months.
Since God is the Sovereign, Wise, Loving, Merciful, and Powerful Creator and Maintainer of the world, He's the One I've been approaching with my petitions for understanding, direction, and confidence.
I received a new clue about the searching process this morning.
It's not enough to have good hearing that picks up noises around me while I'm focused on other things. You know what I mean. It usually happens when we're trying to get some work done and a sound distracts us. We determine the cause and dismiss it, returning to our chosen task and refusing to be interrupted. Our ears hear the noise, but neither our minds nor our hearts fully respond or interact with it.
Scripture seems to suggest a different strategy.
"let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance" Proverbs 1:5
I surely want to be 'wise' and 'add to my learning' so maybe listening is something I need to consider. It's an activity quite different than hearing.
You know what it means to listen. It usually happens when we're trying to get some work done while another responsibility awaits. We stay busy at the current task while our hearts are attuned to another topic. When our ears receive the signal that the expected responsibility has appeared we stop what we're doing. We shift our focus and apply our mental and emotional resources to the more urgent duty.
Am I listening today?
"This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." Deuteronomy 30:19-20
Yup, listening sure does seem like a valuable pursuit.
God tells His people to listen to His voice because He is life to them and their children, and He will give them many years in the land He promised . . . my life, my children, our years. The results are well worth the commitment and effort listening takes.
I dedicate myself to this new undertaking. I am listening even as I study.
"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." John 10:27
Gee whizz. The Savior says that besides listening I also need to follow.
The Shepherd says His sheep listen to His voice; He knows His sheep and His sheep follow. There seems to be something built-into the relationship of the Shepherd and His sheep that causes them to listen and follow; hear with attention and respond in obedience. Hallelujah! Once again I can rely on my Savior and my God to lead me right where I need to go.
I concentrate on listening with my mind and heart and soul. I endeavor to follow obediently and thus uncover one more gem.
"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like" James 1:22-24
Okay, God. I get it.
Listening and yielding are not a one time, one day thing. I need to build a habit of keeping my mind and heart and soul and being turned toward God. I need to remember who He is, how He loves me, and how I need Him every moment of my life.
I praise the great I AM for granting me the Holy Spirit to accompany, empower, and comfort me on this discipleship journey.
I'm on my way.
How about you?
Do you have any confusing, stretching, and downright unpleasant things happening in your life?
Would you like some understanding, direction, and confidence?
Feel free to join me on the listening adventure.