“You’re not listening”. I think I can safely say that this is a phrase that I use every day with my oldest son (I am sure some of you can relate). And then the protest begins, “But dad, I heard you…”. “I know you heard me, but you weren’t listening. If you had been listening you would be ________” (Feel free to fill in the blank with any directive of your choosing). And I even try to be a bit lenient taking into account his degree of ADHD, but sometimes…best not finish just in case someone from Social Services is reading 😉 And I am sure we can all relate. Whether it is parents with your children, wives with your husbands, husbands with your…with your…dog?
It kind of reminds me of one of Jesus statements recorded in Mark 4 at the end of the Parable of the Sower. I am sure most of you are familiar with this parable. If not, go and read it really quick. I’ll wait…All done? Good; let’s proceed. At the end of the parable Jesus makes the following statement in verse nine, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” I love it! Jesus totally get’s his audience. He knows they are hearing him speak, but are they listening to what He is saying (even more profound if you consider the message of the Parable of the Sower). The Greek word used for “hear” in Jesus statement even assumes hearing and perceiving or hearing with intent to act upon.
And I’m afraid we are not in much of a better spot today. I think the question all comes down to being present. Are we present enough in the moment of hearing (or whatever mode of message reception we might be participating in) to listen and then act upon. Just think about all that you are doing in a moment. For instance, right now I am typing, reading my screen, listening to the air vent behind me and fighting off the sensation of cotton mouth all so I can finish this post and I wonder, am I even really present?
I have been working my way, albeit ever so slowly, through the book Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus and today I stumbled across a pretty cool passage. The authors are talking about an ancient Jewish practice of establishing true presence in prayer. “There is a Hebrew word that deals with the question: kavanah, which means “intention” or “direction.” The word conveys the idea of being profoundly aware of the One to whom you are speaking as you direct your heart toward heaven.”* And the crazy thing is that I believe this kavanah, this intention, this being present shouldn’t be just reserved for prayer. I believe that God speaks all the time. Whether it is through prayer, through scripture, through art, through creation or any other creative way He seeks to speak to us (after all, He is Creator God). The question comes, are we present enough to listen to what He is saying? Many of us can barely practice kavanah in our prayer lives, let alone in our day to day walk. But what if we could? What if we were truly present in each moment? Would we see God’s Spirit at work all around us? Would we see his footprint speaking to us about His vast love for us and the world around us?
I can’t help but think that the conversation from heaven to earth may sound a bit like this, “I know you “heard” Me, but were you listening?”
* Spangler, Ann; Lois Tverberg (2009-05-19). Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith (Kindle Locations 1557-1559). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.