Do you listen to God? I don’t mean has a small still voice ever whispered in your ear. I’m not even asking if you pay attention when your preacher’s up front talking away. I mean- listen. Like, “Listen to your Mama!” or “Girl, you are not listening!” When we tell our kids to listen we really mean hear my meaning and obey me. So let me ask again, do you listen to God?
I’m a terrible listener. Terrible.
In recent days my husband and I faced a tough decision. Really there was nothing to “decide” because we knew what we ought to do. We should be responsible, have integrity, do what we promised. It was crystal clear. We knew what was right. What was not so obvious was how we were going to manage it. Because we sure didn’t want to.
God needed to get my attention and I did not want to listen.
That’s a very dangerous moment and I well knew it. I pouted. I groused. I even cried. I finally resolved to do what I knew I should, but like a child sent to its room, I determined to do it with as much self-righteous, self-sacrificing snottiness as I could muster. And I can muster up a lot, just ask my husband.
The same week I was reading a book, “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan. I’ll write more about it later, but for now let me say that it was the most convicting book outside of the gospels that I have read in many a year. In one of the most painful moments of the book he insists that most of us have no idea what our lives would look like if we truly loved God with all our hearts. We give God half an hour of quiet time a day and think we need a sticker that says, “Super-Christian.”
He was referring to Luke 10 where Jesus affirms that the path to eternal life runs right through Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” It was a particularly painful reference because at just that moment my daughters and I were reciting those verses every morning.
Since my girls don’t have access to Sunday School (we live abroad) we work hard to keep up with their Bible learning. Of course these were the verses we were right in the middle of when I read the book. So while I was turning my face away from God, feeling that He was so harsh for making me suffer like Jeremiah or Ezekiel before me (do you sense a pity party?), I had to sit there and repeat, “And with all our heart, and with all our soul and with all our strength, and with all our mind.”
Did you ever write lines when you were in school? “I will not throw spit wads at the teacher.” I sat at the kitchen table and instead of writing it over and over, I said it over and over. “You shall love the Lord your God.”
The first crisis that week was the decision. Obey the clear and obvious will of God, or ignore Him and do what we wanted instead. The second crisis was understanding that “obeying” wasn’t nearly enough. I had to submit myself to the will of God wholeheartedly. Not least because if I didn’t, I might be reciting that verse in shame for the rest of my natural life.
I’m glad that’s not the end of the story.
Thirty-six hours after we arrived back in country, we were supposed to host a small conference complete with guest speaker, Mr. John King. If you’ve ever had jet lag, or been in a serious pout, you can imagine that this was the absolute last thing I wanted to do. But God wasn’t done shaking me out. Of course Mr. King opened his Bible straight to Deuteronomy 6. I could have burst into a temper tantrum right there except no one could have possible understood what I was stomping around about!
Digging into the obnoxiously familiar scripture I saw something beautiful. All of these words demanding obedience, requiring everything I had with nothing held back for myself, were tied to the blessing of God. I don’t know how I forgot even for a moment that everything I have, including my time, is on loan from God. I owe it all back to him. And when I give Him everything, all of my heart, my soul, my strength, my mind, when I hold nothing back, He free-handedly gives back to me a 1,000 times more than I gave.
I hope you are a better listener than me. The past few weeks I’ve been so childish, petty, selfish and full of self-pity as to make myself sick. I can only praise God that in His grace, through His word, He calls and calls and calls until I listen.
Helene and two friends regularly write a blog at www.maidservantsofChrist.com .