“Say what?” “Can you hear me now?” These familiar jingles have been used in popular commercials to get our attention. The catch phrases invite us to listen in. Hearing is what we do in response to an audible voice, startling noise, or soothing music. According to Google, to hear means “to perceive with the ear the sound made by someone or something.” However, listen means “to give one’s attention to a sound, an act of listening to something.” Hearing happens when we catch a snippet of someone’s conversation; we are drawn in with interest and choose to engage ourselves in processing the content and information. Hearing happens by happenstance, but listening intently is a choice.
For the past two weeks, we’ve been defining and discussing lent: the forty days before Easter. We talked about how God might want us to prepare ourselves for Resurrection Sunday morning. I’ve made a choice to prepare myself. I want to be a different person on Resurrection Sunday. I’ve chosen to make this time of lent a time to listen to God. Interestingly enough, God wants us to listen to Him speaking through the people He has placed in our lives.
Last week I was disappointed by a dear friend who has recently relapsed into her addictions. In processing the situation, I’ve asked myself, “What more could I have done?” I mentioned this concern to another of our mutual friends who said, “She has all the tools she needs. She knows what to do.” Wow. My cloud of guilt and shame lifted as I was comforted with the truth: I did everything I could. Now it was up to her. Our backslidden friend had to want to get back up again. God asked me to release to Him the responsibility for results, but to continue to be faithful prayer and let Him work it out. Once again, I’ve died to myself this week. I must choose to decrease so He can bring abundant increase.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, to that Christ’s power may rest in me.” —2 Corinthians 12:9
I’ve been encouraged by the people of God and recalibrated by the word of God. And I’ve chosen to lean in. I am listening closely as God communicates to me through the circumstances, my friends, and the Holy Spirit. I love this scripture from Romans 8:26–27. Let us agree together as we speak aloud these words as a prayer. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saint in accordance with God’s will.”
Read more over on my other blog, From Ashes to Beauty.