O my people, listen to my instructions. Open your ears to what I am saying, for I will speak to you in a parable. I will teach you hidden lessons from our past – stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us. We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the lord, about his power and his mighty wonders.
// Psalms 78:1-4 [NLT]
Hearing is different from listening. I remember hearing lots of the things being taught to me at school and later at college, but that doesn’t mean I was listening. Listening is active; it’s not a passive act. When we truly listen, we engage our minds and hearts to fully receive from someone else.
The more I get into this great privilege of leading a church, the more I’m trying to recall things my pastor, Phil Pringle, said to me back home at C3 Sydney. Every day, I’m facing things that are beyond my strength, and every day I am more and more thankful for the years of great discipleship I received from those back home who spoke into my life. One thing I regret is not having listened more, or having engaged all of myself to truly receive knowledge and understanding. I learnt so much and I did listen, but there was more I’m sure I missed, because I was consumed with other thoughts or ideas in those moments.
Here in Psalm 78, we see God calling out to His people with passion for them to listen to His instruction. God is the creator of all things; He’s all-powerful, all-wise and all-knowing! It makes sense that He would cry out to us, and say “Hey guys, you know that life you’re living?! It’ll be way better if you live it by following what I tell you, rather than doing whatever comes to mind!”
When we look at what God is trying to teach us from His point of view, we realize how patient and loving He is towards all of us. I get frustrated when my son Brooks doesn’t listen to me, so I can only imagine how God feels, with 7 billion humans potentially ignoring His words!
God is so amazing, because He doesn’t just give us bullet points or some dry, doctrinal ‘head knowledge’. He wants us to activate our ears to truly listen, to truly hear what He’s saying; but He does it through story. His story of love for us, through the Scriptures, is anything but boring. I pray that our appreciation for one another’s stories, within our church community and with others in our lives, will go to new levels because we have first spent time going deeper in listening to God’s story, through the Scriptures and through prayer.
Does the story of what Jesus has done for us inject courage into our hearts? If not, I would argue our spiritual ears need to be opened again, to truly listen to the greatest story ever told. Let Jesus speak life into our heart and your life today. He loves you, He has great plans for your life – not easy plans, but great plans. Are you willing to listen and pass His story onto others?
// Josh Kelsey