Thursday, February 14, 2008

Seeing the Invisible God (3)

Listening.

My wife always tells me to do more of that. I'm so eager to fix and contribute (or maybe just judge and control) that I often jump into her personal stories to offer my solution to her challenges... sometimes discovering I didn't really understand her challenges in the first place. I hadn't listened enough.
Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger (James 1:19).
Listening is a dynamic exercise implying both attention and intention. Listeners selflssly devote their attention to an other with the intention of understanding them. It expresses our belief that someone is: 1) acceptable enough to capture our heart's attention, and 2) significant enough for us to invest what's needed to understand them.

When these attitudes are combined with affective, loving action, listening becomes a profound relational step forward that recognizes and celebrates the glory of another.
Be doers of the word, and not merely hearers (James 1:22).
If anyone thinks he is religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world (James 1:26-27). Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom (James 3:13).
Listening is inherently humble, the attitude necessary for cultivating life-giving relationships. It's, by nature, opposed to the pride that drives much of human speech.
Let not many of you become teachers for as such we will incur a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many ways If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well (James 3:1-2). Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you (James 4:10).
The point of all this is simply: To experience our invisible God we must quiet ourselves and spend time really listening from the heart.

I know... genius, right? I didn't say it was a complicated reflection (most of mine aren't). The prophet Elijah learned this simple lesson on Mt. Horeb in 1 Kings 19 when God humbled him through powerful winds, earthquakes, and fires before finally showing up in "a gentle blowing". God came in the kind of quiet breeze you must be very still to experience.
"Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 4:4). Or as Jesus says, "They who have ears to hear, let them hear."
"Abba, teach us to listen."
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1 comment:

bjk said...

simple usually is genius...