“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.” (Karl A. Menninger)
A friend who listens well, draws out the deep part of our heart into a safest net of trust. Their listening empowers us, comforts us and consoles us. Silence from them is remarkably transformed into strength for us.
Can you think of that friend? Who do you share life’s shame and disappointment with? Perhaps there isn’t anyone right now, because of past betrayals and hurts.
I remember a particular season of my life where I lived with permanent walls up. My heart looked like Jericho! I had been so badly wounded, that the thought of letting anyone in was terrifying. I even refused the first engagement proposal from my husband. The poor guy! Thankfully he was persistent enough to ask me a second time. With trembling hands and heart, I finally said “Yes”.
No matter if your heart is sealed tight in self-preservation or is wide open with palms up, there’s good news. You have been given the gift of a Listening God. His heart is for you, not against you. He can be trusted with the deepest and messiest parts of your soul.
He listens when you weep
He listens when you doubt
He listens to your longings
Let’s for a moment journey with the people of Israel, from their homeland to a foreign godless nation. Taken captive as slaves, with great uncertainty of what their future would hold.
“A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping. Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more. ” (Jeremiah 31:15)
Rachel here represents the Northern tribes, who were dragged off by the Assyrians into slavery. All that was safe, familiar and comfortable was stripped away.
Just morning I was crying (while driving.. maybe not the safest!) It’s felt lately like things are flying at us faster than we can handle. Bills, health struggles, house repairs, sick loved ones, fractured relationships, vehicle troubles, grief. I’m sure you know the feeling. I wept with God and poured out my heart to him. Lord, if you don’t come through for us, I don’t know how we’ll get through all this.
This is what the Lord say ” Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded. They will return from the land of the enemy, so there is hope for your descendants. Your children will return to their own land. (Jeremiah 31:16-18)
The Lord sees us his people, he listens with compassion. He brings our children home. He sets us free from the shackles that bind us. There is hope. No matter how desperate or dismal the struggle is that you face. Cry out to your Father, your Abba. His ears are attentively tuned to your heart.
Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. (Jeremiah 33:3)
Returning to the journey of the Israelites for a moment. When the Babylonian seige on Jerusalem occurred, the city lied in ruins. It was described as a desolate waste, without people or animals. Doubts surfaced if such a disaster could be recovered from.
I’m often reluctant to bring my doubts before God, in fear that I’ll be condemned or dismissed. What if he shuts me up for 9 months, like he did to Zechariah? Maybe my husband would like that!
The beautiful response of God to doubt is none of these. He listens to their doubts with empathy, then responds with reassurance.
Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security. I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before. I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me. Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it.’ (Jeremiah 33:6-9)
What doubts are you withholding from God? Pour them out. He’s waiting and listening with compassion.
Right now the kids and I are reading through Luke leading up to Christmas. And something caught my attention in a new way.
Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him standing at the right side of the alter of incense. When Zechariah saw him he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: ” Do not be afraid, Zechariah, your prayers has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.” (Luke 1: 11-13)
“Your prayers have been heard.” The angel’s presence and hopeful message for Zechariah was evidence of our listening God. For decades, the longing of this couple’s heart was lifted up to God. Then, in God’s timing, in God’s way, He gifts them with much more than just a son. One who will make a way for the coming Messiah.
Sometimes weariness sets in when our longings are unmet for many years. Why bother to bother God with this dream yet again? Though over and over in scripture, we see evidence that He’s listening, and working on our behalf. The deep longings in our heart, and not there by chance.
Bring them to Jesus. Leave them at His feet
After I finally said Yes to marrying Jeremy (the 2nd time), I wrestled with a longing that was deep rooted. The previous year, my heart fell in love with the people of Ethiopia. I planned to return to the mission field as soon as I could. Yet, this guy was standing in the way, or at least that’s what I thought! After much struggle, I sensed God prompting me to give my memory box from Africa to Jeremy. Will I ever return to Africa? I don’t know, but there’s a peace in my heart. I believe that God listens to my longings, and desires to guide me in ways I could never imagine.
Whether your heart is weeping, doubting, longing or rejoicing, you are seen and heard. In the midst of the desert wilderness, or a flourishing garden, your voice is reaching heaven, and is met with great compassion.
May you Lord guide you always, may be satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land, and strengthen your frame. May you be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins. and will raise up the age old foundations. You will be called Repairer of Broken Walls and Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. (Isaiah 58:11-12)