Sometimes I get so caught up in the pursuit of ideas that I forget why I need them at all. I can find revelations and reminders. I can collect them, absorb them, examine them kaleidoscopically. But what then? A growing collection of collated and filed inspirations? I picture a shelved wall, laden with books, a rainbow of parallel spines. But dusty, shut-silent, unread. Beautiful and trapped.
An idea not experienced is just words. Living it is the breath of real existence for that thought. Enacting ideas gives them power and permanence. We turn away from the mirror and remember the visage.
So I ask myself again. Why listen? Why read? Why observe? To learn, but ultimately, to LIVE.
A man teaches and tells stories by a Galilee lake, and in a holy, templed city. He is like a shepherd calling his sheep, inviting them to listen and know him. The fruit of following such a shepherd is great.
"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.I give them eternal life, and they will never perish."John 10:27-28.
But his words are hard, too. Exacting. Expecting obedience. Inviting transformation. It is impossible to listen to this man, and really hear him, and not be changed. To really hear him, is to follow him, to put it into practice.
“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock."Matthew 7:24-25.
To live it is to do more than just listen. Let it invade our lives, infect everything we do, infiltrate our hearts, penetrate our minds. This word that we listen to, this spirit that speaks the words of God within us, they are powerful to change us and shape us. If we let them. If the listening, becomes hearing, becomes doing.
But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says.
Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.
For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror.
You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.
But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.
Powerful words. I listen, I try not to forget. I look at my life and I see that my house is built on rock, but sometimes I forget. I forget to be patient. I forget to have mercy. I forget that I am not the centre of the universe. I look in the mirror then forget what I look like.
Each day I need to listen, again. Listen to hear. Hear to obey. Listen to live.
The voice of God from heaven called Peter, James and John to listen to Jesus.
and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.” Matthew 17:5.
Moses taught the people of Israel to sing of listening to God's word like allowing a rain to fall upon them. A refreshing, life-giving, nurturing rain.
“Listen, O heavens, and I will speak!Hear, O earth, the words that I say!Let my teaching fall on you like rain;let my speech settle like dew.Let my words fall like rain on tender grass,like gentle showers on young plants.Deuteronomy 32:1-2
Listen carefully to the words of our God, they quench thirst, they provide solid foundations, they bring life. You will know his voice. Listen and live.