Gratitude Day 389
Sat., Jan. 18, 2019
Matthew 13:9: Are you listening to this? Really listening?
This is how I closed my last e-mail: See you in a week or so.
So, hmmm … how did a week stretch into two weeks?
It just did.
I could tell you all the excuses I can find that are for real. Like, how it took us one-and-a-half days to get home because of bad weather in Chicago. Bad weather = an unexpected flight to Key West AND an overnight in Dallas. Or how about an hour after we finally got home, we held our last Christmas celebration. For real. In very Martha-like fashion, I pulled together a meal with a help from the local deli. Two long travel days ended with windshield time taking grandkids home and visiting family. Thank goodness Hubby Rick took last Sunday night off!
Yes, a week off means more time at work the following week. And unexpected distractions that well, took more of me than I care to admit. It was Wednesday before I finished up the vacation laundry. Seriously. I walked around laundry baskets for days before the last clean piece of clothing was finally put away.
In the midst of this, I made one little change that has made a difference in my spiritual life. As 2019 closed out, I shared a 2020 Bible Reading Plan which takes you through the entire New Testament in 2020. I tried to make it realistic by only including scripture passages for five days a week. A chapter a day for five days per week, and YOU can read the entire New Testament! (Plus a few bonus passages.)
Determined to follow my own plan, I packed the smallest Bible I have for vacation. Trying to take less baggage, you know. When I got home, I decided that I wanted to use a different translation than I normally do. For years, I have used the NIV translation in my personal devotions. Wanting to switch it up, I pulled out my copy of The Message written by Eugene Peterson. The Message is the Bible in contemporary language. It’s not so much a literal translation of the Greek (New Testament) or Hebrew (Old Testament). Rather, it’s a personal message written in words we can all relate to.
One of the first days, I used The Message, I ran across this in Matthew 13:
(Jesus says,) “Are you listening to this? Really listening?”
Yikes. I stopped dead in my tracks.
Matthew 13 includes a well-known parable in which Jesus tells about harvesting seed. Some seed falls on the road, which doesn’t take root. Some seed falls on the road, which is a metaphor for a person who hears God’s word and responds enthusiastically. But when the emotion wears off or something difficult happens, well, faith dies. Some seed gets enveloped by weeds. This person lets worry and wanting more strangle what is heard. Once again, faith falls to the wayside.
Finally, Jesus tells how some seed falls on the good earth and produces a huge harvest. This person takes the News they have heard and shares it with others.
Are you listening to this? Really listening?
Of course, we always see ourselves as the seed that falls on the good earth with a hearty harvest. It’s someone else whose faith doesn’t take root or turns away when something difficult happens in their life. Even if there are weeds in our life, well, we can name a lot of other people who have way bigger weeds than we do.
We focus on the seed. But …
Are you listening to this? Really listening?
I think of the Verizon guy who spent a couple years traveling around the U.S. asking people if they could hear him now. Today, the Verizon guy is no longer the Verizon guy. He’s the spokesperson for another cell phone company. I’m not sure why he jumped ship. My guess is some other company got his attention and he listened to them more than he listened to Verizon.
Who do YOU listen to?
If I was truly honest, I would admit that there are way too many other things in my life that I listen to … before I listen to God. Sure, every once in a while, I stop and listen. But too often, the clamoring noise of “the urgent” occupies me. Or the distractions that lure we away from what I know should be my focus wins out.
Today, I am committing this day to listening to God. Will my life be dramatically different at the end of the day? I have no clue. Will God speak to me in a profound way? Not so sure. What I do know is this:
I have spent way too much of my life listening to all the other voices in my life and ignoring the voice of God.
It’s time to take back listening. Listening to God. Whether I receive a profound message or even some little small message from God today, it’s time for me to use my two ears more than my one mouth. It’s time to really listen to God.
For new reminders out of a different translation of the Bible, I am grateful.
Holy God – I’m a little ashamed at how seldom I truly listen for You in my life. Forgive me for letting all the other noises drown you out way too often. Speak to me today. Quietly or loudly. In a still, small way or with a demanding voice. I pray I hear You in my life today. Amen.
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