April 12, 2019
Learning to Listen
“Listen, you women, to the words of the Lord; open your ears to what He has to say.” (Jeremiah 9:20a, NLT)
Friend to Friend
For many years I led a small group of sixth-grade girls, and we often talked about issues going on in their middle-school lives. One day one of the girls was telling a story in great detail about a misunderstanding with her teacher. I asked what her mom thought about the situation. I was shocked to find that this girl had not discussed what was going on with either her mom or dad. I was intrigued. Of the five girls in the room, all agreed that they don’t tell their parents most of what is really going on in their hearts and minds. Panic rose inside me because at the time I had twin fifth-grade girls. Will they stop talking to me next year?
When I went home, I sat down with my daughters to inquire about my own listening skills, I wasn’t prepared for their responses as they had some similar feelings. Though I had to admit that I had a lot on my mind most of the time, I didn’t want my girls to stop talking to me and find other ears willing to listen. I didn’t want to discover I’d lost the opportunity because I didn’t take the time to listen. I began to wonder: if my listening skills aren’t the greatest with my own children, who are physically present and asking for my attention, how much easier is it for me to struggle with listening to my Creator God? This is a question we all need to ask. Are we really listening?
In the Book of Jeremiah there is a theme that is repeated again and again, and this repetition tells us that God wants to be sure we don’t miss it either: God wants His people to open their ears and listen to Him. He even specifically pointed out the women as those needing to listen to God’s Words. (Jeremiah 9:20) He knows the influence of a woman in her home, church, and community and longs for us to listen to Him.
The opposite of closed ears is open ears. So, what does it mean to have ears that are open to God? It means to listen, respond, cooperate, maintain focus, and prove with your actions that you have heard what God is saying. Two short passages in the New Testament say so succinctly what Jeremiah tried in desperation to communicate, showing us that the concept of spiritual ears has not changed with the new covenant:
- “Then he added, ‘Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given—and you will receive even more. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.’” (Mark 4:24-25)
- “Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven!” (Hebrews 12:25)
We may not have a prophet proclaiming God’s message to us in the street, but God is still calling us to listen to His message. I pray that we will not be so distracted by the minutia of daily life that we fail to hear.
Dear Lord, help me to be a better listener. I want to have open ears for my family, friends, and neighbor, but I especially don’t want to miss Your voice. Help me to hear what you are saying to me through your Word, your creation, and my circumstances. Thank you that when I listen, I hear your words of love and truth.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
How are your listening skills? How open are you to what God is saying to you? Would those closest to you describe you as quick to listen, responsive, cooperative, focused, and consistently living a life that reflects the faith you claim? If we’re honest, we must admit that we, too, struggle with closed spiritual ears. Take 5 minutes today to sit quietly. Ask the Lord to bring to your mind truth from His Word, reassurance of His love, and any next steps He is calling you to make.
More from the Girlfriends
Melissa Spoelstra is an author and speaker who is first and foremost a Christ-follower who is madly in love with Jesus and addicted to the study of His Word. She shares more about Jeremiah’s message of hope through listening in her new book, Dare to Hope: Intentional Living in an Unstable World. https://amzn.to/2MQcvfs