During the past year I was given a priceless gift. I still have it; probably always will. The gift isn’t one of the normal ones that come to mind, even though those are fun as well! The gift is simply one of friendship with a twist. I have a friend who, on a regular though somewhat random basis, gives me a simple instruction. “Listen carefully.”
What happens next is a verbal echo of what I am doing, with an implied question – are you looking at yourself in the mirror? Or a simple repeat of the question I just posed to him. Both actions instruct me to make sure I am seeing and hearing the truth, the real truth. Sometimes the instruction and questions that follow come with a look that says “are you serious?” On other occasions there is outright laughter which I know I should be laughing with instead of taking offense. As I reflect on the impact of these moments and the actions that followed, I know they are priceless. Clich?s like “I was blind and now I see”, at least for a few moments, “It was dark and now it’s light”, and “I can see!” all echo to record the sequence in history.
Far too often I find myself rebelling against the instruction. It isn’t that I don’t want to hear, see, or understand. It is more that it is too painful, difficult, or troubling to grabble with the good and the bad. Yet, listening brings opportunity.
There was a conversation recorded by John. In it contains a nugget that is still true today. “Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over.” (John 12.24)
I can only imagine what happens if I am the grain and God is the ground. I may not want to hear it, I know I don’t fully understand it, but it is the truth. Will I listen?
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