“Tim are you listening?” I can still picture where I was sitting when my first grade teacher caught me checked out without a clue to what she just said. Listening is hard work and not just in school, but for all of life. It seems today many struggle with listening, we are checked out like I was in first grade-living in our own dream world.
Recently, The Father has being speaking to me about the utter importance of listening. In the world which we live in the norm seems to be constant shouting. The last few weeks two books have grabbed my attention on this topic. One is titled the “Insanity of God,” by Nik Ripken. The Ripken’s were missionaries in Africa and despite receiving much favor from God, also experienced overwhelming disappointment and loss in their time of service.
Seeking to restore their souls back in the US they felt a tug of God for them to find and listen to persecuted Christians around the world. The main question they wanted answered, “was Jesus really worth it?” The result of listening not only answered their question with an emphatic “yes!” but also brought healing to their broken hearts. Jesus came alive to them like never before. Nik described his experience with the Chinese house church movement as people who know the cross of Christ in their suffering and choose to live out of His resurrection power.
After listening to hundreds of testimonies of the most persecuted believers from around the world the Bible was no longer a history book for Nik but the living, active Word of Jesus-who is worth living and dying for.
The next book that spoke to me is “The Listening Road,” by Neil Tomba. As a pastor in Dallas,Texas Neil notice a disturbing trend among people in his church – they were finding it difficult to speak about God to those outside the four walls of the building. So right in the middle of Covid Tomba set an example for his congregation and biked 3000 miles across the US speaking – and more importantly listening to strangers. He simply asked them about their faith, life experiences, and matters of the soul. He took time to listen.
I loved this book, not just because I have also dreamed of doing this on my bike, but because of the fruit of listening. In this book Tomba intentionally listens to the stories of others and this opened up unbelievable conversations which in turn led to prayers, tears, healing, and the love of Christ being shared.
Both of these books revived within me the art of listening. It reminded me of how when my children were young I earnestly listened to them with my whole heart. There is such value in listening to voice of others and to the voice of God.
One morning as Patty and I were talking about this we were brought to James 1:19,20:
“My dearest brothers and sisters, take this to heart: Be quick to listen, but slow to speak. And be slow to become angry, for human anger is never a legitimate tool to promote God’s righteousness…”
Being “quick to listen, but slow to speak,” is hard work. Yet, I hear the Spirit saying “Tim are you listening to Me, are you listening to others?” At this very moment in our lives, taking time to listen could be the most important thing you and I do-not just for our souls but also for the well being of our brothers and sisters in this crazy world we are living in.