Do We Really Listen?
“If only someone would listen to me!”
Job 31:35 (NLT)
I listened to a CD recently and half way through the speaker shares this thought; “If you love someone, you will listen to them!”
When someone listens to you—attentively, lovingly and with a great desire to take in what you’re saying—how do you feel? Do you feel valued, comforted, loved; or all of the above? This means that when we really listen to someone, we are offering them a priceless gift. But as we all know it is a very difficult gift to give, because all of us have to some degree a problem with listening—to our spouses, our friends and our children. As we take time to listen we are automatically focussed on the speaker and if this person is telling us about their lives, their plans for the future, or their ambitions, we get to know them a lot better.
God himself urges us to take time to be silent before his throne. He says “Be still, and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46:10). It’s interesting that the Hebrew word translated ‘be still’ can mean to be relaxed, and employs the sense of not making an effort, but expresses the idea of tuning in and leaving matters with Him. It is also translated in the KJV as, ‘draws towards evening!’ Evenings are a very special time for me—I call it the time when the creation is reposing down and everything becomes muted; even the birds become quiet—there’s a hush in creation as if responding to the command “Be still!” Many centuries ago this time was called ‘Angelus time,’ in villages the church bells would ring at sunset and peasants in the fields would stop their work and offer up the evening prayer, which began “Angelus Domini,” which is Latin for ‘Angel of the Lord.’ I don’t know if you are familiar with Jean Francois Millet’s famous painting, “The Angelus” but it captures this thought exactly; it portrays a peasant farmer and his wife standing with bowed heads as the village church bell rings. They wait in silence; they look to God and worship. As you scan this scene you feel the weariness of this elderly couple, the relief that the days work is over, but most of all their peace as they listen.
The other Hebrew word used in the scripture above is ‘Yada’—to know or to become acquainted with. So a paraphrase of this scripture would be: “Be quiet and attentive before me and get to know me better!” I guess that’s how we get to know any person; by paying attention when they speak and thinking about what they say. It’s also interesting that this is God’s instruction to the disciples who were on the mountain during the transfiguration of Jesus—notice, “…a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my beloved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him!’” (Matthew 17: 5). But do we really?
Lord, help us to be still before you each day and really get to know you!
Study by Cliff Neill
Grace Communion Church Luton
Farley Hill Methodist Church
North Drift Way
LUTON LU1 5JE
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