A Charism of Listening
Let me say from the outset that this is not an attack on freedom of speech just because it’s about listening. There are things that do need to be said and heard, in such ways as will make a difference. However, an equally great need is that people in these times, having been shut down in so many ways both personally, socially, and politically, is to have someone simply listen to them.
But the question is, are we up for that with no strings attached, or does listening mean it’s done with a view to advice giving, or a manner of sizing up the other person for what we may get from him, or as some means of ferreting out methods of controlling him, or of pulling him into an ideology?
We can begin with a very basic promise from Psalm 77:1 (NASB). “My voice rises to God, and I will cry aloud; My voice rises to God, and He will hear me.”
This is such a simple statement, one of hundreds like it. So “easy going” that we might tend to ignore it and take it for granted, just as we do those who may be in need of someone who listens. God hears me! He is always listening. He yearns to hear from us, having created us for fellowship with Him. And when He redeemed us, and offers redemption, that goal does not change because He does not change.
Yet, as the rest of this Psalm reveals, the answer to our need for hearing Him may come by way of the Holy Spirit deflecting our “hearing” and “seeing” His answer toward recalling all His marvelous interventions, not only in other times and ages long past, but in our own lives when we noticed - by His answers - that He was listening and intervening.
“This wretched man cried out, and the Lord heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles.” Psalm 34:6.
A legitimate question arising along with this takes it a step further, into our listening capabilities. If we - who regard ourselves as the Body of Christ collectively, or individually as a temple of the Holy Spirit - are created in the likeness of God, would we not also have a capacity for listening to one another, without attachments (aforementioned), and with great intensity and compassion?
Would our listening capacities be characterized by the divine qualities found in 1Corinthians 13? (The reader is encouraged to read this and make the connections.)
When we are born from Above by his Spirit, His trait, His likeness, becomes ours increasingly. This is not to be taken for granted, however, but is a gift, a charism so to speak, “stirred up” and cultivated, not only through use, but by continuing to ask, seek, and knock for the Holy Spirit. (See Luke 11:5-13.) Why? Because we don’t take His Presence for granted, and the need of the moment changes in its specificity as to application.
That one person in need of simply being heard and acknowledged as a worthwhile human being should be able to find in one of us a capacity to not just physically hear, but to listen inwardly with openness, compassion, and sincerity, with no personal or ideological agenda behind the listening, this is a treasure. It costs nothing to bestow this gift, except a little time. As He has freely given to us, so we freely give.
Sometimes resolve and answers arise for the one listened to by simply being able to express his need and know that he or she is being heard.
So here’s a thought. What if, instead of saying, “Let’s get together to chat over coffee,” we changed the intention to, “Let’s get together to hear and listen to one another over coffee”? How might this change of intention not only deepen the depth of a friendship, or even heal a distant and strained relationship, or simply supply the relief of being heard?
In a time when we are not heard but rather regarded as a herd (!), how great is the gift of listening on a personal level!
So many have been shut down by so many “forces” these days - political, social, and personal - it would only seem logical that listening by Listeners without any agenda would be a great gift to give.
I suspect that those annoying compulsive talkers each of us know - if they perceived that someone could fearlessly and without any agenda simply listen, this might allow them to get off the launch pad of trivia, and on into deeper hurts and disappointments and not fear judgment. They might at some point cut to the chase. They might be willing to go deeper than the incessant repetitions about surface activities and “busyness” and set aside the litany of grievances over this far gone world’s political and social issues.
What if we placed the intention to be Listeners as God listens to us, because He has all the time in the universe, and beyond in His uncreated realm? If we are in Him, is this not so for us as well?
Before they will come to Him in prayer, they may need to see Him by our resemblance to Him, in that we care enough to just welcome and listen.
It’s nearly Christmas! The gift of listening without judgment or attachment to an outcome might be the best stocking stuffer we could give! A gift that keeps on giving!
God after all heard the cries of this lost and fallen race, and cared enough to send His very best into the world to redeem us. This season marks His incarnation among us, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, true God and true man, so long ago. God’s listening to the heart cries of fallen humankind change the direction of everything, pointing us heavenward through His Son! This is worth celebrating.
“For a Child will be born to us, a Son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace On the throne of David and over His kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of armies will accomplish this.” Isaiah 9:6,7.
All glory to Him to Whom is given all authority in heaven and on earth! This is He Who hears us, Who listens to and loves us with an everlasting love, because He IS Love. Amen.
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