Longing For a Heart of Love Like Jesus

“All those people goin’ somewhere
Why have I never cared?”

Brandon Heath sings and asks himself this as he breathes in the confusion and chaos of people in this world and as he longs to have the eyes and heart of Jesus.

It’s so easy to get caught up in our own lives and our own problems, isn’t it? To become blind or passive about the pain of others? Or perhaps numb, because we can’t bear to think of all the pain in this world?

I long to really see each and every person I meet, whether in person or online. I want to listen to the brokenness behind their pasted-on smiles and I’ve-got-it-altogether words. I want to care what is happening to them behind the scenes. I want to remember that each one carries a cross, sometimes hidden from the rest of the world, and to place their burdens in the hands of God who knows and cares.

There may be times when we hesitate to pray for some people.  Perhaps it’s someone who hasn’t treated us very well in the past?  Someone who has spread rumors or believed in the slander of our person?  Someone who has abused us in some way?

Personally, I find it hard to pray for someone who has hurt me. And even harder to pray for someone who has hurt my loved ones or defenseless children and adults. I confess that sometimes I don’t even want God to care about their souls. I hang my head in sadness and plead that I will become more like Jesus.

It’s not always easy, is it? Especially when the pain runs so deep. I’ve asked God – “How can I ask You to bless this person, Lord?” I feel in my heart that God hurts for me and understands why it’s so hard, and He is so patient with me as He helps me through this long and continuous healing process. Through His grace, I will eventually heal deeper and be able to see every person like Jesus sees them.

Oh, to have the eyes of Jesus! When He was suffering excruciating pain on the cross to save us from death and agony, He still looked at the people around Him with compassion. People who hated Him with a passion. Who drove in the nails and mocked Him. Who stripped Him of His dignity. And yet His first words were, “Father, forgive them…”

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them,
for they don’t know what they are doing.”
Luke 23:34a

He could have said, “Father, consume them. They don’t deserve Your love or forgiveness.” But no, He didn’t. His love for sinful mankind is far beyond what we can ever fathom.

We have just as much a part in crucifying Jesus as the ones who physically drove in those nails, and in disgracing Him to the lowest of the lowest.  And yet He still looks directly into our eyes and hearts with love and compassion. While His blood was pouring out to cleanse us. So there will always be hope for us. In spite of who we are or what we have done or not done, He prays for us and longs to redeem us.

Oh, to have a heart of love like Jesus!  A deep, true love for humanity!

“Give Me Your Eyes”
by Brandon Heath

“Give me Your eyes for just one second
Give me Your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me Your love for humanity
Give me Your arms for the broken-hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me Your eyes so I can see…”

Invitation To The Listening Life

Have you ever held a large conch shell to your ear and listened? Closing your eyes, you can imagine the sound of the ocean waves rushing against the shore.

Science says it’s actually the noise around us leaking into the shell and resonating, but I still like to imagine it is God miraculously sending the sound of the ocean into it to soothe my weary soul. It still awes me. Every time.

In order to hear it though, we have to be silent and listen. To be alert to catch the sound. To give it thoughtful attention. To allow our hearts to soak it in.

On April 19, I am joining a study led by Linda Stoll on the book The Listening Life: Embracing Attentiveness In a World of Distraction by Adam McHugh.

Listening is so important, isn’t it? It is not only perceiving a sound but making a conscious choice of concentration so our brains process meaning from the words we hear. I really need to be more intentional.

If we would approach God as listeners, wouldn’t our relationship with Him be closer and richer? Of course, He wants us to sigh and cry and pour out all our troubles and needs to Him. But He also wants us to listen to Him with all our hearts.

I’ve been trying to listen to Him more, but often my thoughts get distracted when I try to become silent before God. How often do I really listen to His way? Or even want to know His way, because I am so determined to get my way? I want to really listen to His Voice and follow Him wholeheartedly.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.
No one can snatch them away from me,
John 10:27-28

Wouldn’t our relationships with people improve, too, if we would use our hearts and ears more than our mouths? So many hurting people just need someone to listen and care. When we throw out Christian platitudes, we might just add to their burdens.

How about listening to our emotions? I’m quick to preach at my emotions rather than listen to them. God gives us our emotions for a reason, so I’m hoping to learn more about this area as well.

Above all, I’m looking forward to learning more about the Greatest Listener of All. GOD Himself. The great King of all kings who lowered Himself as a servant to pay attention to us as if each of us is the only one. He listens to us and empathizes with us more than anyone in this whole wide world will.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.
Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me,
and I will listen to you.”
Jeremiah 29:11-12

Here are the chapters in the book, each chapter containing several sections:

– The Listening Life
– The King Who Listens
– Listening to God
– Listening to Scripture
– Listening to Creation
– Listening to Others
– Listening to People in Pain
– Listening to Your Life
– The Society of Reverse Listening

I hope you will join us in Linda’s 2nd Book Open House. Linda stirs up discussion by sharing some quotes and she welcomes anyone’s input, whether or not you buy the book. In the first book study, I didn’t buy the book, but I still gleaned so many insights from reading her posts and the comments. I find her blog to be a safe place where everyone is welcome and nurtured with tender loving care.

“God Help Me”
by Plumb

“There is a wrestling in my heart and my mind
A disturbance and a tension I cannot seem to drive
And if I’m honest, there’s quite a bit of fear
To sit here in this silence and really hear You

What will You ask of me?
Will I listen to Your voice when You speak?

Help me to move, help me to see
Help me to do whatever You would ask of me
Help me to go, God help me to stay
I’m feeling so alone here
And I know that You’re faithful
But I can barely breathe
God help me…”