23 May, Monday — Listening vs Hearing

Monday of the 6th Week of Eastertide

Acts 16:11-15
Jn 15:26-16:4

“One of these women was called Lydia, a devout woman from the town of Thyatira who was in the purple-dye trade. She listened to us, and the Lord opened her heart to accept what Paul was saying.”

I have two young children and my youngest is starting his ‘Terrible Twos’ phase, throwing tantrums and exerting a mind of his own. He gets frustrated easily and his default response is to throw things before dissolving into a flood of tears. When I am dealing with his meltdowns, I often wonder what it must be like for God our Father to parent each one of us. While I do know that nothing is impossible for Him, the thought of parenting 8 billion children with their problems is exhausting!

Sometimes when a child gets upset, it’s hard for them to enunciate what is troubling them. Because we don’t know what the problem is, we try to placate the child in order to keep him or her quiet. We distract them, play a song or put on a show, bribe them, threaten them, scold them, then next thing you know, we as the parent are throwing our own tantrums too. We just can’t deal with it, it’s too hard!

The problem is that we’re not listening to our children. We’re not focusing on what they want us to hear, we’re focusing on getting them to hear what we want them to do, whilst ignoring what’s troubling them. It’s not easy I know, especially if the said tantrum is on a supermarket floor. But do take a moment to breathe and stay calm, then when they are done letting out their feelings, focus on their feelings and when they see that you’re listening, they will indicate to you, in their own time, why they are upset. It is when we are not listening that we get frustrated ourselves and miss the message altogether.

Taking our cue from Lydia in today’s reading, she shows us the importance of listening. The reading says that she “listened, and God opened her heart to pay attention.” I think our problem is that we’re too busy trying to talk over God in a bid to get Him to listen to us, not knowing that He is already listening. We’re trying to talk (or sing!) louder than everyone else so that God can hear us; but hey, He already hears us. Now, He wants us to listen to Him. He wants us to calm our internal chatter and listen to His message for us. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God”. God is not in the roaring wind or the raging fire; He is in the stillness of the air, the gentle breeze that blows past our faces. Be still in His presence and listen. Listen firstly, and God will open up our hearts to reveal the message He has for us. In this stillness of His presence, we will come to understand what He wants us to do. In this stillness lies our time with our Father, our communion with Him, which is His and ours alone.   

(Today’s OXYGEN by Annette Soo)

Prayer: Dear Lord, for the times when we have talked so loud when we should have been listening, for the times when we have interrupted you when you were talking to us, for the times when we have tried to get our way instead of listening to your way… forgive us. Help us to learn to be still and know that you are God.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for always listening to us. Even before we have formed the thought in our heads, you have already heard us and prepared a way for us. Help us to be good listeners too.


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