When I do premarital counseling with couples, one exercise I always have them do is called the wish list. Each person must identify three things they wish happened more or less in their relationship, and then share that with one another. While one person is speaking, the other person has to listen without making a judgment on these statements. Then, they have to repeat back what the other person said to insure that they have really listened. It’s harder than you might think. It’s one thing to let the words make their way into your ears, but it’s another thing to truly listen to another person.
The way we listen to God is not altogether different. We must move beyond simply letting His words enter our ears or eyes, but we must be active listeners, who truly hear what He has to say. As we continue our ||40days|| journey through Lent, today we are focus on listening to God’s words. We draw near to the experience of the Old Testament prophets, whose experience is so often marked by this phrase:
Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite. (1 Kings 21:17, NIV)
The word of the LORD came to me (Jeremiah 2:1, NIV)
As we acknowledge our difficulties and turn from them, we must first and foremost turn to the words of God. We do this because the words of God are life-giving. As Moses reflected on the manna God gave the people to satisfy their hunger on the way from Egypt to the Promised Land, he said:
He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 8:3, NLT)
It is not just by bread that we live. To truly live, we must receive the words of the Lord. We must truly listen to God’s words – actively – and experience transformation through Him. As with the closest disciples who were left in the wake of many deserting Jesus, we join with Simon Peter, who said:
Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. (John 6:68, NIV)
The easiest way we can hear God is by listening to His words in the Scripture. The Bible is the primary place that we should turn to hear from God because in the Scriptures we encounter the trustworthy, revealed words of God. As it says in 2 Timothy:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16, NIV)
Also, as we read in 2 Peter:
Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20-21, NIV)
Today, are we listening to the words of God? Maybe a better question is this: as you would with a good friend or spouse, are you actively listening to what God is speaking through His words to you?