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…”

Reflecting Jesus and His Love

reflection
(Photo taken by my son Glen)

Andy loved to talk about Jesus and asked tons of questions about Him, probably more than most children do. Then at 5 years old he was stricken with encephalitis and was disabled for life. He couldn’t walk, talk, or hear, but his parents could still sometimes understand him through his eyes or motions. Whenever he saw a picture of Jesus or was taken to church, his countenance brightened. “Jesus” was a name he could write other than his parents’ names. His favorite cap read “Jesus Is My Boss.”

I have never met Andy, but my sister knew him and recently went to his funeral. He was 43. Throughout his life he had breathing problems and endured lots of surgeries. After one particular surgery, his mom stood on edge as she waited for him to breathe on his own again. He did breathe again, and his mom turned to the window and cried. She prayed, “O God, I can’t take this anymore.” When she turned back around, Andy held his hands up and formed a cross. She said, “Yes, Andy, I know you are telling me Jesus is with us.”

The day I first heard of Andy, I was unable to do much and was beating myself up for not getting much done. I was so impacted by his story. Here was a man with all these disabilities and yet he still shined for Jesus.

He had a relationship with Jesus, and that’s what counts. If we are close to Jesus, no matter what situation we are in life, we will naturally impact others around us. Many people could see there was something in his countenance that was different. I think he probably had a deeper relationship with Jesus than many.

Too often I worry I’m not “doing” enough with just writing these posts and trying to encourage others. I get caught up in the insecure, condemning voices Satan just loves to throw at me. Or I compare myself to others who can write a post every day and yet always have something new to write. Those who always have the right words to say in comments. And that sign pops up in my brain again – “Not enough!” I too easily forget to “just be” who God intended me to be in whichever situation He plants me with whatever He gives me.

I also get it all wrong when I think how much I “do” for others will determine how much God will love me. But I have it all mixed up. His love is unconditional. His grace is free. Not one good thing we do is going to buy us more of it. It’s already there in full measure for us to receive with an open heart. All we have to “do” is believe in Jesus who loves us so much that He has bought grace for us with His own blood.

“For it is by grace you have been saved,
through faith—and this is not from yourselves,
it is the gift of God—
not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Ephesians 2:8-9

Jesus wants us to have a personal relationship. To rest in His grace. To listen to where He leads us. Without Him we are empty vessels. Without His living waters, we cannot pour out His love to others.

If all my energy is directed to wanting to be more like others or trying to gain approval of others, what energy do I have left for nurturing my relationship with Jesus? If I let others, including Satan and myself, affect my thoughts and actions, I separate myself from nourishment in Christ Jesus. If I don’t plant myself next to the Living Waters, I will bear no fruit and will wither away.

“But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And on His law [His precepts and teachings]
he [habitually] meditates day and night.
And he will be like a tree firmly planted
[and fed] by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season;
Its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers
[and comes to maturity].”
Psalm 1:2-3 AMP

 Andy was not busy “doing.” He was “being” who God wanted him to be. He was planted in Jesus, so he naturally reflected Jesus and His love. That’s what we need. It’s not about doing, it’s about being who we are in Christ and letting His love shine in us, spilling out towards others.

“As all of us reflect the glory
of the Lord with unveiled faces,
we are becoming more like Him with
ever-increasing glory by the Lord’s Spirit.”
2 Corinthians 3:18

A Child's Trust

“Do They See Jesus In Me?”
by Joy Williams
“Do they see Jesus in me
Do they recognize Your face
Do I communicate Your love
And Your grace
Do I reflect who You are
In the way I choose to be
Do they see Jesus, Jesus in me?”

Dearest Lord Jesus, please help us
to deepen our relationship with You.
Please make us shining lights for You.

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Linking up with: 

Holley – Coffee For Your Heart 

Jennifer – Tell His Story 

Kelly – Cheerleaders of Faith

Barbie – Weekend Whispers