24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Spiritual growth in most religious traditions or self-help practices, is about learning to listen. Try it for a moment. Hit the pause right now. What do you hear? I hear crickets in my backyard, a distant airplane, the house creaking, a conversation I had with my sister, my kids saying “NO!”. What did you hear?
I’m not consciously listening for the things I just mentioned. But when I am intentional , I can hear.
Jesus the Rabbi offers a steady stream of wisdom and invites His followers to listen. I could have used a non-Jesus quote that talks about the gift of listening. But I’m rooted in a faith tradition that is shaping how I listen.
In effect, I’m being invited to is listen. It’s a learned habit, a practice. You and I have not always been good listeners. And guess what? We still have a ways to go.
So how do we listen? In other parts of the Bible we’re instructed to:
- be still
- be in solitude away from distraction
- be humble and learn to be a student
- acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers
What I’m hoping we can all do is learn to listen and be attentive to God, our emotions/thoughts/inner movements, and others. I desperately want to be a good listener. I believe in it so much that I’ve based my career on being a listener. So I’m listening to my own inner movements. There are movements within that clamor for my attention. Some are joyful and others are pitiful.
I want to incline my ear towards the One who is whispering the great Three phrases we long for: You are my beloved, I am pleased with, You belong to Me. I want to be attentive to these words because they give me the courage to face the other parts that scream at me:
“You blew it”
“Shame on you”
“Cut a corner…no one will find out”
“You’re so stupid”
“You don’t need anybody”
“You’re all alone and you’ll blow it”
“You’re not good enough”
Any time I hear these words, I remove myself from either/or thinking. I acknowledge the stress and circumstances I’m in. I acknowledge my fears. And I learn to hear the great Words that the Father spoke over His Son. Those same words are for you and I today. Claim them for yourself. Don’t be shy about it. You and I need them right now.
Don’t be afraid to listen to what’s happening within. God is in the midst of your “within” and you no longer have to fear the shadows. Befriend the shadow. Learn to hear what it might be saying and then offer it away in the Presence of the One who exclaims:
“I love You”