“Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live.” Is.55:3
I sat in the back yard this morning—my very own retreat center—savoring sunshine, and the quiet that is not quite silence… mulling over the Word and my reactions to it, reading, cat-napping, and just relishing this being a living temple for Almighty God to inhabit by His Spirit.
This phrase “incline your ear” is rolling about in my mind of late. I love the picture of it. Can you see it? Like a good sheep-dog, one ear cocked, ready, listening. Like young Samuel—“Speak Lord, I’m listening.” It’s the part of prayer that we sometimes overlook. The part where we need say nothing.
How many times did Jesus say, “Let him who has ears hear…”? And in Luke He adds: “Take care how you hear!” (Lk.8:18) In the parable of the sower and his seeds, the good soil is commendable. It represents the one who upon hearing the Word ‘holds it fast in an honest and good heart, and bears fruit with patience’(8:15) Oooo I like that. Hanging onto God’s words, whether they ring true for me or not. Hanging onto them because He promises that His Word “will accomplish that which I purpose and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Is.55:11)
His words are spirit, they are living and active (Heb.4:12); they are life-giving. Do I really believe that?! Then why do I sometimes cringe, turn a deaf ear, harden my heart, not want to hear what God will say to me next… while He’s saying: “Hear me, that your soul may live!”
Hmm… so I’m mulling over these things this morning. And what it is the Gospel has to offer the cringing deafened ear… cringing lest a command be given that will be too hard to obey or too unpleasant or too fearful a thing… What does the gospel have to offer? Repentance and forgiveness of sins, for saint and sinner alike; for we are alike but for the living breathing spirit of God in our beings making all things new.
His Word mirrors to me who He is, who I’m not. It offers me the correction I need to hear, and the reassurance. It breathes new life into my deadened hard spots. It invites me to come, to call, to fear not, to know and believe my Redeemer is strong enough for even my weaknesses. And yes even I can be a witness to His being alive.
“Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you? Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
I do not stand condemned but shown a better way, encouraged, emboldened to ask…and reminded that yes, I’m chosen to be His witness, a witness to who God is, not who I am. He is strong in my weakness, able without my strength, a Redeemer who turns all things to good, who speaks life and peace, who restores joy and invites me to be of good courage, for He has overcome the world. I need only follow Him, one ear cocked to hear His voice, eyes wide to watch the way He does it.
Funny, I see this generation following after us, but not exactly in our footsteps. This is at first alarming, but when I look more closely I see them choosing different steps, getting to know the world, the people in it, not just believers. Listening to people. Walking and working with people. Caring. And finding Jesus’ way with people. He enjoyed people. He spent time with them. They enjoyed being with Him too. And in the process life was breathed into dark places. Hope was born. Healing granted. Freedom and forgiveness found. And there was joy.
This is the by-product of listening to Him. Not only do we find life, but we reflect who He is.
Ah, Lord, you’ve chosen us to know you and made us witnesses to the Life you are to us. You are the Redeemer. Redeem our weaknesses. Shine through our cracked places. Be glorified in our lives from generation to generation…
“Take to your heart all the words with which I am warning you today, which you shall command your sons to observe carefully, even all the words of this law. For it is not an idle word for you; indeed it is your life.” Deut. 32:46,47
“But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.” Is.66:2