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Testament (July)

Check out our newest July issue of Testament as Kathy shares on the power of being listened to by God and listening to God.

Listening
By Kathy Jung

Rivals to teammates. Opposites to companions. Offenders to peacemakers. Fearful and angry to reflective and receptive. Loud and urgent, or timid and disconnected, to humble and wise. Conflicted to whole.

Learning to listen all the time, to friends and enemies, to God, and to the different parts of our soul, is a way of being, that leads to sustainable, expansive, unifying, strength.

To be heard is to be disarmed and gentled. To be listened to, is to be cared for, and to be given a framework to bring chaotic emotions and thoughts to order and understanding. Offering to listen is a gift of welcome to new horizons and increased resilience.  Listening is a gate to a journey toward flourishing.

This month’s testament has me thinking about the power of listening.

Recently I have had numerous opportunities to listen. Here is a list of all that I have received. Listening to others has reinforced my gratitude for the full spectrum of talents and differences that have contributed to good endeavors in this world, including the good that God is shaping in me. Listening has mentored me with examples of how to be wise and kind in relationships. By practicing being a safe person, I have been honored to be the temporary holding space for others’ deep pain and longings, and honored to bring these concerns on their behalf to God. Listening to others has helped me to self-reflect on the ways my struggles are the same, and how I might help both myself and others. Listening and considering with all my senses and imagination, has made me curious and engaged in the wonder of what it is to be a small human in the care of a great and good God. Being still has given me prayers of hope that I did not muster on my own.

In our culture, we often think of the speaker as the expert with the knowledge and skills that gets passed on to us the listeners. There is a hierarchy, we think. And to some extent this is true. Maybe that’s why we all want to be a bunch of speakers, with sound data, and clear and persuasive presentation. But here again, we get it all wrong. (Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.)

It is God who has shown me how. He listens and accepts all I have to say. As with a stranger I begin to speak, only that which I think He will find acceptable. But as I learn to trust and enjoy His loving listening, I learn that it is safe to confusedly explore, rant, and lay bare my soul so that God and I can look at it together. If God does this for me, then likewise I want to learn to do this well for others.  

We are called to listen to God but first I learn its power from being listened to.  And we learn to speak truth with love and discernment because we have heard the truth from Him. (1 John 2:27 Christ’s anointing teaches you the truth on everything you need to know about yourself and him, uncontaminated by a single lie. Live deeply in what you were taught.)  Listening well and speaking with love, both in the receiving and in the giving, these come together in a mutual advance – His kingdom advance.

We can feel burdened by the good tasks we feel called to do. But remember, listening is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13) Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

Chris Tomlin – God Who Listens (Acoustic) (youtube.com)  – a song for contemplation

The God who made the winters and the summers
The One who put the stars all in their place
The only One who stands above all others
And He knows me by name

The angels hide their faces in His presence
The demons run for cover when You speak
You rule the world and reign above the heavens
And still draw close to me

And when I close my eyes
I know that

I’m not just hoping
I’m not just wishing
I know I’m praying
To a God who listens
I know He hears me
I know He’s living
Yes, I am praying
To a God who listens

He walks with me and leads me by still waters
I lay my troubles down at His feet (I lay my troubles down)
It’s amazing that the Savior and the Father
He is a friend to me
How can it be, oh?

I’m not just hoping
I’m not just wishing
I know I’m praying
To a God who listens
I know He hears me
I know He’s living
Yes, I am praying (yes, I am praying)
To a God who listens

Who knows me
Who loves me
Who never will fail me
Who tells me that I am His own
And You surround me, remind me
You always are for me
So I come boldly to Your throne

I’m not just hoping
I’m not just wishing
Yes, I’m praying
To a God who listens
Oh, what a promise
That we’ve been given
Yes, we are praying
To a God who listens