Several years ago, early in the morning, I felt that I had to go to the emergent care. Looking back, I shouldn’t have gone I suppose. The whole thing cost a whole lot more than it was worth. I had a lot of pain internally on my right side toward my back. This area of pain isn’t new as I regularly have it there, especially at night when I am trying to sleep. That particular night was the worst it had ever been. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t find a place to get away from the pain and so I gave in and went. I actually thought they might be able to help. However, they didn’t and weren’t. They didn’t seem to want to listen to me, as to what was going on. The Dr wanted to simply treat the symptoms, but I said no. Then the Dr insisted it was something to do with my spine and I tried to explain that no, it was internal and further to the right. Yet it was all to no avail. Frustrated and still in pain I came home. Oh yes they did give me a shot of something like Motrin, an expensive Ibuprofen. I do not enjoy going to Doctors for a whole lot of reasons, not the least of which is trying to get them to listen to me as to what it is that is going on. They all too frequently assume what must be wrong. Once this assumption is made, they no longer seem to listen, if they ever really did. It is just too frustrating of a problem. The result is I simply try not to go. My wife had a brain tumor and it took us six years to get a diagnosis. Every time we would go to the Doctor, he would ask her what her husband does for a living, how many kids does she have and conclude she needed a vacation because of the stress in her life. The result was she finally stopped going to the Doctors. It was then six years before we found a Doctor who truly listened and took what she was saying seriously enough to find out what was going on. Well, she had a tumor growing just under the brain. Hmmmm, guess it wasn’t stress and vacation time after all. The stories go and on; far too many to tell here.
As I think about this, I am thinking of how common this problem is; our being all too ready to assume that we know something and thus we are not really listening to what someone is actually trying to say. I have done it and I know others have as well. We hear a little of what is said and take a giant leap and there you have it, a conclusion is drawn on the assumption of what it is that we think is being said. It is all too common of a problem, the problem of not genuinely listening.
I wonder how many times this could be said of me. How many times has someone tried to explain something to me and I jumped ahead, failing to truly listen and therefore I missed what it was that they were actually trying to say? I am afraid it would be too many times. How embarrassing is that? How insensitive and uncaring is that? How simply arrogant is that? How many times did I miss diagnose the issue and offer inappropriate responses? Again all too many times I am sure. I am not pleased with myself over this. I am at least aware of it and trying to work harder on it, by the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus. I truly do not want to be someone who is deaf or blind to the hearts and needs of others.
Isn’t that the real issue though? Isn’t this what becomes the bottom line? The bottom line being that when we become aware of a problem we can then deal with it in the strength, wisdom and power of the Lord Jesus Christ, but until then, we can’t work on what we do not see or know is there.
Lev 4:22-24 (ESV) When a leader sins, doing unintentionally any one of all the things that by the commandments of the LORD his God ought not to be done, and realizes his guilt, 23 or the sin which he has committed is made known to him, he shall bring as his offering a goat, a male without blemish,…
Even the Law made provision for this problem.
As you may have noticed in this text, one wasn’t called to take care of a problem until they were made aware of it. Lev 4, as a chapter, is dealing with this whole subject of unintentional sins committed by the congregation, priests, leaders and individuals. It seems no one was immune. Once one was made aware of their sin, then they were expected to deal with it righteously according to the law. For us to day, I believe it is the same. We cannot genuinely deal with something that we are genuinely unaware of. I really believe that this is one of the purposes of the scriptures, of the preaching and teaching of the Word of God. They are to aid in this making us aware, by the power of God the Holy Spirit through the living and alive Word of God, of our sin and weaknesses, our blind and deaf spots. However once we are made aware of what we are doing which isn’t pleasing to the Lord Jesus, we then need to get it taken care of, in Christ Jesus.
How do I, we, actually become better at listening so that we can respond more accurately to the hearts and needs of others? Well, for one, it is true that the Lord Jesus hears all who come before him, in faith. He hears and knows their hearts as they actually are. I believe the key for me and for all of us who serve the Lord Jesus and his people, is to simply and humbly confess our inability to hear as we need to hear, him, others and all. For me this is the bottom line, my admitting that I cannot hear as I need to hear, in my strength and power. Trust me; it isn’t for lack of trying.
John 15:5 (ESV) I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. ESV
Apart from the Lord Jesus we can do nothing and thus we need to admit our inability and then lean upon his enabling power. When we acknowledge our weakness, He, our Lord and Savior, is allowed to become our strength. I for one need him to become my ears, my ability to genuinely listen and hear him, let alone to hear the hearts of others. I truly cannot do this apart from him and his enabling power.
Isaiah 50:4 (ESV) The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught.
Then I believe that we need to ask the Lord Jesus to rise up in, to and through us, becoming our hearing; asking Him to awaken our ears to hear as one being taught of the Lord Jesus to listen. It is only then that I will be one who knows, in Christ Jesus, what it is that needs to be said, or better put what it is that Jesus is actually saying in response to their needs, the true cries of their hearts.
Colossians 1:27 (ESV) To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Our hope isn’t in ourselves or anyone else. Our hope is in the Lord Jesus. It is the Hope of Christ in us that we must look to, for our both becoming aware of our weaknesses and of our seeing those weaknesses overcome by his grace and mercy. Jesus become our eyes, ears and responses before others that we may, in spirit and in truth Hear You and thus Hear their Hearts and know what it is that you are saying in response to their heart cries, that they may be actually heard by us, in and through Christ Jesus. We need, by His grace and mercy, along with the power of the Holy Spirit, become those who listen with His ears, with His heart, with His focus, with His Spirit, with His intent, to those who are crying out or even simply speaking to us about their needs.
Oh yes, I have and do forgive the Doctor for not listening and therefore not hearing me and my actual problem. I pray that the Lord Jesus will make him aware of his needs so that in that awareness, he can come to genuinely respond appropriately to others. Meanwhile I pray that the Lord will also make me a better listener and therefore a better responder to the needs of others, in His Name and for His greater glory, honor and praise.