Maybe that's an exaggeration. Or maybe it's not.
In either case, there's a chance that I've just missed a splendid opportunity to LISTEN. Our hard-working, always reliable, and too often under appreciated middle school secretary has a sign in her office window reminding us that LISTEN and SILENT are spelled with the same letters. As much as this multitasking genius here at R7 hates to admit it -- it is simply impossible to listen fully and have my mouth moving at the same time.
Unless, of course, I'm chewing gum and then it's still a little doubtful.
It's only when I fully listen carefully and intentionally that I can understand what someone is trying to tell me. The more quiet and thoughtful I am in processing what's being said, the more I can discern with wisdom about an encouraging response or maybe in carefully listening I will see that all is needed is the gift of being listened to.
In Keep It Shut, Karen Ehman challenges us to take the double-dog dare. I'm not usually tempted by such things as dares, but this just makes sense:
"For the next twenty-four hours, make an effort to really listen to the people in your life. Purpose to not give your opinion unless you are directly asked. Instead, seek to ask clarifying questions that will help you better understand what the other person is expressing."
I haven't tackled 24 hours yet, I'm thinking about the most strategic 24 hours to use. Maybe I should be doing a study on over-analyzing.
Since my first study with y'all, I can tell you though, by just focusing for a few hours each evening with my family gathered around the new butcher block in the kitchen, I have an incredible sense of strength and calm -- and you won't believe this but QUIET! Yep, when I'm more intentional so many other things seem to fade away. That's the way God designed it really.
In Scripture, we see many mentions of storms and howling winds contrasted against the calm stillness of quiet. How about our old friend Jonah. You have to love Jonah -- Bible class for children would just not be the same without him! As Jonah ran from God, "A violent storm arose...the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship" (Jonah 1:4). The cries of terror and pleading for help, the sound of the water crashing, and the sailors shouting to each other as they threw their valuables overboard reminds me of what the storms of my life might sound like to God. When the noise of sharp words, or groans of frustration mix among the sounds of mindless TV shows and video games with each moment becoming more tense and at least one person in the house wanting to jump overboard -- what is the answer to calm the storm. Quiet. Turn to God and be quiet.
In Mark 4, we see even Jesus with his disciples in a boat on the sea getting away from the crowds when a storm arose. When the disciples cried to him, "He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!"
The lesson seems pretty simple doesn't it? Will you join me in the double-dog dare? Or what about a simple focus each evening? It's an intentional journey. I'm glad to have you along.
In the previous post I showed you where to get chapters 1-3 for FREE, but now you can download chapter 4 for FREE too --- just use the button below. Then, I'm sure you will want to order the book to join us on this jaw dropping, I mean jaw closing journey!