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Are You Listening?

Have you ever been in conversation with someone and felt like they weren't listening to you?? If so, how did that make you feel?

There are generally not many words that I waste in conversation, so when I speak - like you, I'm sure - I want my voice to he heard. I was raised in a small household where we didn't do much talking over one another. When one person spoke, the respectful thing to do was listen. (Now, that didn't always happen. But when it didn't, it was a conscious decision that we were all very aware of.) But I have been in way too many conversations with folks where it was clear that they were not really listening to me. Maybe it was because they were preoccupied thinking about their response to me. Maybe they were just so consumed with thoughts about their own lives that they couldn't focus on mine. Or maybe, they were raised in a family where everyone talked at the same time, so not listening to each other was kinda normal. Either way, I know I'm not alone when I say, "That is just plain rude."

Let me give you an example of what I mean.

There's this lady...who will remain nameless...that I have had an opportunity to talk to quite a few times now. And it never fails! Just about every time I talk to this person, I leave the conversation thinking, "Well, I guess she just needed someone to talk to." Now, don't get me wrong, that's not a bad thing. But every time??

When she asks me how my children are doing in school, I can hardly get my last few words in before she starts telling me all about what her children have been doing lately...good and bad. When she asks about my family, she's about to burst to talk about hers. When I talk about my job, she just can't wait to tell me about her crazy coworkers and self-absorbed supervisor. And the same thing happens with everything else we discuss. She's so consumed with her own life, that she neglects to stop and listen to what's going on in the lives of others when it really matters.

Now when I recognize this dynamic in a conversation, I can oblige. It's actually not even a challenge for me to do so because I am naturally a listener. But it's important for me to assess what type of conversation I'm in. Am I in just to listen? Am I in to vent or just want someone to listen to me? Am I in to share in mutual interaction with the other party?

Often times this becomes clear to me early in the conversation. But many times, in the middle of the conversation, the tables turn. And in situations where I may have been primarily the one venting, I quickly become the listener... Especially when I see that the person I'm talking to just needs a listening ear; or at the point where I understand that there is something more for me to gain from the conversation by listening instead of talking.

The question of the day is: How does this compare to our conversations with God???

Pause for a moment because this question is everything!

How does this compare to our conversations with God?

Are we dong more talking or more listening?

Do we ever experience a shift in our communication with God?

Do we sit still spiritually long enough to hear God's responses to our prayers and petitions? Or do we ask our questions, make our plea, and state our case only to check prayer off of our to-do list and move on to the next thing?

If nothing else, living for God has taught me the sheer importance of LISTENING!

There's nothing that we can tell God that he doesn't already know. Nothing! God is keenly aware our needs and desires. And he knows more about the situations we pray about (or don't pray about) than we do. So how much time do we really need to spend talking to him about these things? And what would happen if we spend more of our time just listening to God? Let's not be like the lady who was so caught up in talking about her own life stories that she couldn't really hear me when I spoke. It may be true that I wouldn't have shared anything with her that was so life changing in those conversations. But when we are communing with God, EVERYTHING we receive from him has the potential to change our lives.

Listening to God has accomplished some marvelous things in my life. So I just want to pass along these golden nuggets of wisdom in hopes that someone will choose to LISTEN to the Lord God as he speaks gently to the hearts of his people.

LISTENING equips you with instructions / directions to take with you along life's journey. It's like your navigation system. It helps you to understand which direction you are going and reroutes you any time you are going off course in order to get to your destination.

LISTENING and hearing from God builds confidence. Not merely in self, but confidence in God...which leads to a healthy level of self-confidence also. So if we are in Christ, we believe that we are victorious...we believe that all things are working together for our good.

LISTENING humbles us. It helps us to see and understand how powerless we are except through the power that God gives us. It creates a heart of gratitude that combats our natural urge to believe we deserve God's blessings.

And finally, LISTENING positions us to live on purpose and in our own purpose. It helps us become clear on what is important to God; and if we take heed to his instruction, it propels us into living a purpose driven life.

How do you think God feels when we constantly take his blessings, plead for more, but ignore him when he speaks to us? My guess is that, he doesn't like it very much. So, maybe it's time for our little talks with Jesus to experience a shift.

Let us make a decision TODAY to be better listeners!

Luke 11: 28 (NLT)

Jesus replied, "But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice."

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