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Mark 043 - Ears

Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

Mark 4:9

While we only have one mouth, we have two ears. I don’t think for a minute that this is any kind of an accident. It’s no roll-of-the-dice, freak of nature that we only have a single way to verbally communicate outward while we have two ways to receive verbal communication. Maybe it’s true that we should listen twice as much as we talk.

Think about how anxious you get to speak. Think about the many times that you just started shaking because it feels like you’ll just pop if you don’t get to share your information or opinion. I know that there are some people that think men don’t talk. But get them in the right situation and you can’t get them to shut up.

It might be about their favorite sports team. Or their political views. Or how they just crushed a drive on par 4, thirteenth hole. We men love to talk about our successes. But we go dead-in-the-water silent about most everything else.

One other way to get men talking is to start what I call the “One-Upmanship” contest. One guy says something about what they did or saw. The next guy can’t be quiet, they just have to top what the first guy said. And then we’re off to the races. Everybody then jumps in with the bigger, better, faster, more exciting experience.

But the other side of the equation is barren, like a desert wilderness. How many people do you know that are just so ready to listen? They are so anxious to hear that they focus on every word coming from someone else. They sit on the edge of their seat, leaning in, just listening, hanging on every word.

They don’t only listen with their ears, but they listen with their eyes. They listen as they watch our face, our expressions, our eyes. They listen as they watch our posture, how we move, how we use our hands. They also listen with their hands as they touch our shoulder, hold our hand, hug us. They listen to every single part of themselves and us.

Do you know anyone like this? They want to listen before saying anything. They refuse to speak first. They give you the gift of listening. And once you’ve said everything you want, only then do they talk.

If you know someone like this, hang onto them! Go out of your way to find people like this and welcome them into your life. Do anything and everything you can to hold onto them. Even bribe them. They are a rare find and an even rarer friend.

Jesus not only wants us to understand the story and its meaning, but there is something more. He wants us to listen like a pizza stone. Bet you weren’t expecting that analogy, were you?

You put a pizza stone in the oven and then turn it on. The oven comes up to the temperature you set it to, but the pizza stone’s not ready yet. The oven might be at the set temperature, but the pizza stone isn’t. Heat must soak in, and that takes time. At least 30 minutes, preferably an hour, before you put the pizza on it to cook.

Listening is like that pizza stone. You can hear the words quickly, but you probably don’t know what they truly mean. You have to listen long and hard before the underlying feelings come to the surface. You have to chew on the words, their posture, their facial expressions, everything about them to get the whole picture.

This is the way that God listens to us. He’s always ready to hear our words, moans, cries, laughter. He sees when we’re beatdown by life or people. He sees the pressure we’re under, the constant stress and downward pull of this life. He listens, and listens, and listens. He’s willing to let us get it all out before giving us some silence to gather some strength back.

Then, and only then, when we’re ready to hear, will he speak. And when he does speak, it’s not only the right words but also just the right way that we need to hear from him. Sometimes it’s a whisper. Sometimes it’s a gentle push. And other times it’s a baseball bat upside the head.

Since listening is part of loving. Jesus wants us to listen to God the same way we are to love him. You can think of it this way.

Love (and listen to) the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love (and listen to) your neighbor as yourself.

Luke 10:27

Let’s love God this way, with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind. We need to put everything we have into our relationship with God. Not just the leftovers, not just whatever we have at the end of an exhausting day. But we need to love and listen to God when we’re at our best. Giving him our undivided attention.

Then, and only then, will be in a position to love our neighbor as ourselves.


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