Texts, emails, phone calls, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, television, radio, calendar, to-do lists, traffic, never-ending meetings. Do these intrusions make up a good part of your day? Could they be interfering with the important things in your life?
In 2019, the word “busyness” described a good part of my life.
“Listen” is my word for 2020. Listen deeply for God to speak and to guide. Listen deeply for the underlying meaning and need of others. Listen with expectation for beauty, understanding, and joy.
Jesus took Peter, James, and John up on a high mountain, and Jesus was transfigured before them. His face shone, and His garments were whiter than they had ever seen. There, talking with Jesus were Moses and Elijah.
As Peter was offering to build three tents for them, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came from the cloud.
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” Matthew 17:5
That word, “hear” means to “attend to, to consider.” Once we consider, we attend to the saying as we read in 2 Corinthians. 5:7, We walk by faith, which comes by hearing, not by sight.
“The great gospel duty required, and it is the condition of our benefit by Christ; Hear ye him. God is well pleased with none in Christ but those that hear him. It is not enough to give him the hearing (what will that avail us?) but we must hear him and believe him, as the great Prophet and Teacher; hear him, and be ruled by him, as the great Prince and Lawgiver; hear him, and heed him. Whoever would know the mind of God, must hearken to Jesus Christ; for by him God has in these last days spoken to us. This voice from heaven has made all the sayings of Christ as authentic as if they had been thus spoken out of a cloud” (Matthew Henry).
Repeatedly, Jesus tells His followers that if they have ears, they need to hear.If I truly heard or understood the Word of God, would I worry? Click To Tweet
But I’m busy. How do I listen deeply?
5 Strategies for Listening Deeply
- Study what you are listening to. Jesus said that His sheep know His voice and follow Him. John 10:27 Why do they know His voice? They have heard it many times and have followed it. Keith and I have been married almost 49 years. He had a different background than I had, and he still has experiences that I may not completely understand. However, through the years, we have worked hard to understand each other. We have studied each other.
- Place yourself into the experience or the other person’s thinking. I’ve read Scripture since I was young. However, when I tried to imagine myself in Joseph’s trials or Mary’s situation, I learned so much more about God’s love, His works, and His providence. This works in teaching. One of my students had difficulty understanding the process of analysis. He was a football player, so I asked him if he watched videos of the teams he was playing and studied their strategies. Then, he understood. I placed myself in his environment.
- Know the context. In John 5:15, John writes that we know that God hears us and will give us whatever we ask. If we read only that Scripture, we might think that all we need to do is pray for $1 million, and God will give it to us. However, the verse before this indicates that we must ask according to God’s will. Knowing the context is also important in listening to others or even enjoying music. Although Keith does not like opera, he knew that while we were in Milan, opening night of Aida was playing at La Scala. He also researched information about the opera and Verdi, and we also watched it before we traveled to Italy. Keith thoroughly enjoyed the experience wrapped up in the opera house, the context of the story, and the elegance of the evening.
- Dismiss preconceptions. Before the Lord healed me of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue, I had to study the Scriptures that mentioned healing and unlearn some preconceptions that I had been taught. Israel did not recognize Jesus when He came because they thought the Messiah would set up a political kingdom on earth rather than the kingdom of heaven. Their preconceptions were incorrect; they were listening and still holding onto their preconceptions. This might be how we see someone who dresses very differently. Because of the way she dresses, we might dismiss the profound ideas or solutions that she suggests.
- Unplug. Jesus went to the mountain top to pray. He retreated from everyone to pray in the night, in the early morning, and in the evening. Removing all distractions or retreating from the distractions and the noise helps us to focus on what is important. It also refreshes us.
Almighty God, hear our cry and empower us to listen deeply to You, to others, and to creation. As we listen, show us Your perfect will for our lives, and lead us into a deeper relationship with You and Your people. We ask that You lead us into this new decade in Your mighty strength and power, and may we make a difference for Your kingdom. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Amen.
What strategies do you use to listen deeply?