Monday, 19 July 2010


The topic for a recent ladies breakfast was 'Listening to God'.  Hmmm.... a few thoughts:

When I thought about the topic of listening – and I mean listening to God – it was borne out of a desire to be able to listen better, listen more, listen carefully, listen meaningfully – I’d gone through a season of being so busy that I didn’t feel I was really hearing from God. And that was because I wasn’t reading the Bible diligently or spending longer periods – more than just a few minutes – in prayer.
I knew I needed to listen as Mary did, in this story:

Luke 10:38-44 (The Message)   Mary and Martha
As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. "Master, don't you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand."
The Master said, "Martha, dear Martha, you're fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it's the main course, and won't be taken from her."
A friend has kindly shared her thoughts on this: A common saying of Jesus' time was 'Let your house be a meeting place for the rabbis and cover yourself in the dust of their feet, and drink in their words thirstily'. Gifted teachers of the Hebrew scripture would travel from town to town, relying on supporters such as Martha to provide food and lodging and engaging in discussion and debate with local residents eager to deepen their knowledge of the Hebrew faith. The teacher would sit on a low stool or cushion with his disciples on the ground or mats around him. Being itinerant the visitor would not stay long and so disciples either travelled with the teacher or,as Mary did, grab every possible moment to hear his words.

So the hospitality shown here was a common act of support. However, Martha feels put upon; she gets all uppity and big-sisterish (takes one to know one!); she sees Mary as being selfish – but let's face it, she could have dished up something requiring less preparation and the clearing up? well that could be done once the teacher had left! When an opportunity comes by it doesn't pay to pass it up, it may never come your way again and this visit was short so Mary was determined to make the most of it. Jesus does not blame Martha but instead challenges her priorities. Is her busy-ness really necessary just at that moment? How can her faith grow if she never takes time out to learn?
Another saying was: May you always be covered by the dust of your rabbi (John Ortberg, God is Closer Than You Think p54)
In an amazing way, once I realized I needed to listen more, God has been speaking to me about exactly this topic: listening just this last week! How did this happen?
Friends. Ruth Rouxel mentioned she was giving a talk in church – tomorrow! – about Mary listening to Jesus.
Other Christians. I read an article by Nicky Gumbel entitled Hearing God’s Voice where he talks about listening to God – primarily through the Bible. I came across an excerpt from God Whispers Your Name by Max Lucado in a weekly email I get, where I was reminded of John 10:3 where Jesus says The sheep listen to the voice of the shepherd
Reading and the Bible My reading from Day by Day with God on Thursday was about Exodus 15:26 (The Message) That's the place where God set up rules and procedures; that's where he started testing them.
God said, "If you listen, listen obediently to how God tells you to live in his presence, obeying his commandments and keeping all his laws, then I won't strike you with all the diseases that I inflicted on the Egyptians; I am God your healer."
Spending more time in prayer.
Circumstances! The possibility of having to move, loss of job etc has focused my mind on listening to God and working out what He wants for us!

All of these things are helpful – some more than others. We just need to be sensitive.