There are those convictions that come along reminding me that I spend an awful lot of time talking to the Lord, but very little real time just listening. Reflecting on this sad reality brings to my mind the words of Isaiah 29:13, wherein the Lord says, “this people draw[s] near with their mouth and honor[s] me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men.” A lot of spiritual activity is present. But often with me its comfortably one-sided, with me sharing genuinely the things on my heart and mind. They are thoughtful things, mostly. Spiritually important things. Things you would approve. The kinds of things men would command that I should do. And commend.
But I just don’t listen. At least not until the moment comes, or the margin, or the mess, or the message, reminding me that whatever seemingly innocuous void I have within is the direct result of a very one-sided conversation in which I ramble on incessantly while the Master of the Ages awaits patiently for the right opportunity to offer the words of life. When, however, I shut up and listen, and receive those precious morsels, here are some of the things I hear from him, at least of late.
- Matthew, you spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about whether you are pleasing me. Just rest. I, your Father, am pleased with my Son, Jesus, and he has claimed you as one of his, therefore so shall I. That is more than enough for me.
- My mercy is far richer than you can ever appreciate, and I love offering it. Indeed, I exalt myself to show mercy to you. I wait eagerly to be gracious to you. Whatever sin and shame, failure and tragedy, missteps and poor judgments, and more, that you have in your life, are never bigger than my capacity to handle with loads of mercy and grace.
- You’re fine. Just chill.
- Don’t forget, my child, that you become what you think about all day long. This has significant implications for, well, everything in your life.
- You are in a war. The enemy hates you because he hates me, and he hates himself most of all. Never let your guard down. You are in a war.
- Sometimes you talk too much. It’s okay in a way. I love hearing your voice, and never, ever turn a deaf ear your direction. However, there is so much I wish to tell you regarding my love for you and my purposes for your life. Slow down and listen. I think you’ll be delighted with how meaningful that will prove.
- Long before I ever ask you about Bethel Church I will inquire about your beautiful wife and your daughters. Lots of people can be the teaching pastor at Bethel Church, but no one else can be Christa’s husband or your daughters’ father.
- I, God, relish digging deeply into the soil of your soul. I love to bring things into the light. It’s geared, by the way, for your good. In fact, ultimately it is so that you can share joyfully in my holiness and love. That thrills me to no end!
- You might think about whether there are things you think and do today as a leader that ten years from now you’ll ask yourself, “Why in the heck did I think that way or do that thing? Man was I immature!” If you identify anything along those lines, let me help you deal with it now.
- Take to heart Isaiah 26:3 and keep your mind stayed on me. Honestly, everything else has high-resolution meaning only when you do that.