“Therefore consider carefully how you listen.” Luke 8:18
It never ceases to amaze me how you can read a passage of scripture that is very familiar and suddenly see - or hear - something that you’ve never seen or heard before. Such was the case when I read Luke 8:16-18.
It’s a familiar passage, one often quoted in the context of gifts and talents. But that is not the context. The context is talking about hearing and receiving God’s word. It comes immediately after the parable of the sower – that wonderful and somewhat convicting passage about those who were hearing the word but received it in different ways, under different circumstances.
For a while I wondered how these two passages were connected. They seemed isolated – one about hearing, the other about sharing. But as I pondered it, the light began to dawn. You cannot have one without the other.You will not have a light to put on a lamp stand or anywhere else if you are not receiving that light from a pure source. If you are not hearing from God, you have nothing worth saying.
Now I’m not talking about divine revelation in the same terms as we would consider scripture divinely revealed. I am talking about the everyday, ordinary way God speaks to us. I’m talking about how we listen. That is a difficult thing to do in these days that are so full of busy-ness and stress, but it is an essential thing, especially for those who would dare to be writers.
I remember a day some time ago when I realized how important it was. The day couldn't have been more perfect. The sky was clear, the sun dancing off the water. The beach slowly filled with parents and children, out to enjoy a day at the beach. After an overnight camp‑out, my friend and I had brought a few girls from our church's Kids' Club to have a swim and a picnic. We stretched out on the sand and chatted as we watched the children play. Little ones were busy making sand castles. An older pair tossed a frisbee above their heads.
A little red-haired girl caught my attention. She had wandered in front of us a few times, as she dashed from the edge of the lake to her mother, sitting in a lawn chair not far away. I watched as she stood still, her small head bent studiously over something in her hand. She turned and started toward us, stopped and peered at her hand once more, took a few more steps and stopped again. Her progress was slow as this pattern was repeated. As she approached, I could see a moth cupped in her palm. She tilted her hand each time it moved, stopped when it crawled dangerously close to the edge and moved slowly forward when it was secure again. Eventually the little girl reached her parent, holding her hand out for her to admire the precious treasure.
My delight in watching that little girl deepened as I heard God’s voice. “That’s how I carry you, to my Father’s delight.” The depth of Jesus’ love overwhelmed me in that moment.I know I could have missed His voice that day. I could have been anxiously watching the little ones under my care. I could have had my mind on all the stresses that come with being a pastor’s wife and mother. I could have let all of “life’s worries, riches and pleasures” get in the way. But somehow He broke through. I heard and was blessed and several times I have used that story in written form to illustrate God’s care for us.
We must take time to listen, consider the circumstances in which we have placed ourselves and see to it that we find a place that is conducive to hearing God’s voice. Then we will indeed, have something worth writing about.