Listening connects us. It’s a way of looking inside each other! We’re ‘reading’ a friend when we listen to what they have to say to us. This makes me think of the way online booksellers give their customers a free read of parts of the books on their ‘shelves’. In that way, we can listen to what the author has said. Amazon calls it ‘Look Inside’.
For years, I’ve enjoyed reading The Message: the Bible in Contemporary Language, translated by Eugene Peterson. When I recently discovered that he’d written his own books, I had a ‘Look Inside’ one of them. In The Wisdom of Each Other, Peterson has written about listening to one another; really listening. I ‘heard’ three things from what I read in the short sections online: I need to be open with my friends; I should be sensitive to their needs; and be aware that God is looking at me from the inside!
What an amazing concept! Not merely the abstract idea, but the experience of it! But then I wondered, do I really listen to him? It’s so important for me to take time to hear what God has to say to me; he’s my friend. And as he works within me, I want to clearly hear the story he’s writing of what he’s doing in there! If I actively listen, he’ll give me a look-inside-understanding of it all.
I’ve sometimes wondered if trees hear God speaking to them! Do you ever think that way? I’ve pondered the question: do trees listen carefully, waiting for God to say to them, ‘I’ve been working in you and now it’s time to be beautiful in a different way from how you were a season ago?’
For instance, each year, I noticed something happening in the pistacea tree in our garden. As I watched it change, it made me long for God to do the same kind of thing in me. The pistacea didn’t force itself to be God’s creation – it just let his life live inside it…and it showed.
I thought to myself, Would I listen long enough to hear God telling me what he’s been doing in all of my seasons? When I was in full green leaf and my ‘berry fruits’ were hanging on me like food for the birds, God was working. When the autumn came, and my ‘leaves’ turned to bronze, gold and red, he was still doing his work deep within me. He could see what I was like – from the inside. He already knew my story. Every season is necessary to show his purpose, even the winter.
How wonderful that the creator of the Universe, who spoke it all into existence, would come and live in me and do his amazing work: speaking words of creativity.
The Apostle Paul wrote these words in one of his church letters, ‘You are his workmanship…’
How do I know that I am really God’s workmanship? Or as another translation of the Bible puts it, his masterpiece? It’s because the Bible is God’s statement on the subject! In other words, he said so. He wants me to know it as a fact. Like really listening to another person, I can hear from God.
My desire is to always hear what his words are. As Eugene Peterson wrote about his friend, we need to respond to each other. If I look inside myself, I can hear God speaking his beauty throughout my being. I listen and know that he wants to make me amazingly lovely to bless him and others? What a wonderful God we have!