It had been a long day and I was exhausted. I rested for a short while before I began to cook dinner, but my body still felt unspeakably weary. To distract myself from my body's screeches, I pulled out my mp3 player (which I told you about in my last blog) and was soon lost in “A Lifelong Love”, a non-fiction audio book by Gary Thomas, about building a great marriage. I’d really enjoyed it the first time. Now, God was challenging me to absorb its truths a second time. I thought it would be a good idea to take down the questions given at the end of each chapter to reflect on and learn from.
So every time I reached the end of a chapter, I'd wipe my hands dry and scuttle off to my den to type out the discovery questions being shared. The first three times all was hunky dory, but as I pressed play after typing the fourth lot of questions, there was a problem. No voice boomed in my ears, no teaching sounded, sharing another helpful aspect of what constituted a perfect marriage. Hmmm. I cranked the volume up. Loud. Still nothing. Oh dear. Was it broken? I stood up dismayed.
It was then I made my big discovery.
I’d forgotten to put the ear buds into my ears. Oops! I chuckled … then laughed out loud. What a relief that my mp3 player wasn’t broken after all. I went back to cooking and listening to Gary Thomas’ wise words. Later, I wondered how many times I was guilty of not putting on my listening ears in order to pay attention to family and friends.
I usually love listening to others. In fact, I think it’s one of my God given callings in life—to listen to people, to really listen—to help them feel better about themselves and about life as they share. Most of the time, I hope I do it well. But … there have been occasions when I have failed. I have sometimes tuned out of my son's lengthy babblings when he was little and he was a nonstop chatterbox. There are times when I have been struggling with an issue or battling ill-health and my concentration has not been all it should be as I listened to others.
Listening matters. Doesn’t it? I feel blessed when someone (often my beloved) listens to me with understanding, giving me his full attention. I feel heard. I feel validated. I feel loved. But even now—at 60 years of age, when you’d think I’d be an expert at it with all the practice I’ve had (for over six decades of paying attention to others), listening well is still something I need to work on.
I read a story about a lad, (let’s call him Frank), who prayed every day that God help him get a Bible. The shops in his country didn’t stock them so he needed Divine Intervention. Nothing happened ... at first. For days. For weeks. For months. Didn’t God hear his prayer? Actually, God had instructed a believer to take a Bible to Frank. Sadly, this man hadn’t obeyed God for a long while. So Frank was kept waiting! And waiting ... and waiting! It made me realise that if God asks me to care for someone and I don’t obey, the job may not get done. Sometimes God might not have a plan B! Scary isn’t it?
How often do I listen to someone half-heartedly with my mind on my own concerns? How often do I listen instead with all my heart, spirit and mind in order to bless and serve? How often do I remember to put on those listening ears when God desires to commune to me? How often do I open His Word and listen intently to what He seeks to share with me?
Does listening matter? Absolutely. Let me love well by listening well. Let me listen to my spouse today. To my child. To my friend. To my neighbour. To the stranger on the street who desires to connect with me. To the person in need. To God Himself. Let me listen with my heart in order to hear, obey, bless and build God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Ephesians 5:21
“My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen closely to my words …
for they are life to those who find them.” Proverbs 4:20, 22