It’s a new year, and I’m trying something new here with a monthly round-up I’m calling Monthly Musings (unless I – or you – come up with a catchier title). So what did I discover, experience, try, or learn in January? Here are a few things I’d like to share with you:
#OneWord365 – my word for this year is TRUST. I’ve felt the Lord whispering in the quiet corners of my mind, nudging me when the muscles in my neck, shoulders and back have begun to tighten with worry or stress. Being naturally inclined to want things under control, trust and I don’t have a good history. One of my prayers for this year is to walk more closely with the Lord, learning to trust him with the large and the small things of life; to rest in him. Let’s face it, rest is not really an option without trust. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6.
Frozen (the movie) – Granted, I’ve been a little slow to discover this one, but better late than never. Along with the music (and Olaf the snowman), I loved how it dealt with the theme of fear creating barriers that shut people out, isolating us from those we might love instead. As an introvert who struggles with fear, it was good to be reminded that isolation is not the answer.
The One YearHearing His Voice Devotional by Chris Tiegreen. I’ve been appreciating the wisdom in these pages all through January. Here’s a little taste from the entry on 15 January: “…listening to God’s voice moment by moment is necessary for our spiritual lives and growth. If we don’t hear Him, we don’t thrive.”
Bethel Music has just released a new worship CD/DVD: We will not be shaken. I’m currently playing it on repeat at home and in the car, so it’s safe to say I’m loving it. The opening lines to the title track (which is also the first song on the CD) are: “For we trust in our God, and through his unfailing love, we will not be shaken.” That’s a good start right there.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
I walked for an hour this evening, just to be with God. That was His invitation. “Walk with me.” It took all of that hour and more for my mind and spirit to settle from the day’s distractions.
Listening well often takes time, patience and commitment, and even then we may not always feel that we have heard God speaking.
Whenever you are tempted to think that you are wasting your time by listening, I encourage you to remember that Mary chose what was better. Don’t give up.
Have you ever noticed how it feels to have someone listen to you? I mean really listen. It doesn’t really happen all that often, especially in this crazy busy world of distractions. But when someone gives you their full attention, and just listens, that’s a precious moment.
When someone is genuinely interested in you and what you have to say, their attention says that you matter. You have value.
I need to know that I matter, that I have value. So do you. So do we all.
It’s hard to listen really well. To listen without jumping to conclusions or to judgement. To get past the feeling that listening isn’t enough, that I need to share my own anecdote to show that I understand, that I need to provide a solution a friend’s problem, that I should have some useful advice. That I somehow need to fix things, as if they need me to rescue them, as if I’m not already broken myself.
But what if I listened to someone in order to learn? From them. About them. What if I listened – to know them?
How would that change the way I listen?
Would it free me from shouldering a responsibility that is not mine? Would it free me from waiting for ‘my turn’? Would it free me from trying to impress with my own insight or humour? Would it free me to really pay attention and seek to understand a person. Would it allow me to really see them for who they are? To be with them? To love them and care about them?
One of my favourite songs recently has been “A Little Longer” by Jenn Johnson. The story behind the song is worth hearing. When she was running around in frantic busyness to get ready to go and lead worship in a conference at her church, Jenn walked past the piano in their living room and felt the Holy Spirit saying, “Sit down and worship.”
Frustrated and annoyed, but knowing it was God speaking to her, she eventually sat down at the piano and sang “What can I do for you? What can I bring to you? What kind of song would you like me to sing?”
What he said surprised her. “I didn’t want anything, I just wanted to be with you.”
What followed were a lot of tears and this song. Have a listen.
When the last thing you think you need is to stop and listen, what will you do if He breaks into your busyness and asks you to stay a little longer with him?
If you’ve been reading Flourish! for a while you might remember that I started the year reflecting on God’s whispered invitation to listen. In October I’m joining other bloggers taking on The Nester‘s 31 Day challenge to write every day of the month on the same topic. I want to learn how to listen well, so I’ll be writing every day about listening. I’d also love to hear about your experience and perspective on listening, so I hope you’ll join me on this listening journey.
I’ll be adding a link here for each day, so there’s one place to find all the month’s writing together. And if I can sort out the technology there will also be a button on the home page so you can check back here any time during the month.