Sunday, August 21, 2011

#9 - Learning How To Love-Listen

"Now listen up!" It's a strong statement we hear a lot, but many of us don't really know how. We find ourselves 'half listening all the while digging into our mental toolbox for our advice ready to enlighten the one we're hearing. Maybe a tool we need most is the ability to really REALLY listen. For now let's just call it Love-Listening. Picture this kind of listening (hearing) as adding color and shadow
to a black and white picture of what someone is saying to us. Love-Listening would be the total focus on what our ears are picking up, as though we were sure to soon hear something that would really become a spark in our own world. The trick though, in Love-Listening is to use it among our ex-teen generation. The frosting of Love-Listening is the anticipation of blessing to us, no matter who is doing the speaking.

Love-Listening actually begins in our mother's arms, even before we learned our ABCs or could dress ourselves. Earlier generations would have a family member read portions of God's precious scriptures to them. Almost like a flesh and blood Holy Spirit, that parent would open those scripture truths to our young lives in ways we could picture ourselves standing beside David with the giant before us. Our young hearts drank in visions of God removing our enemies before us, sending Satan packing.

To be truly effective in reaching out to our teens and young adults, we need to relearn how to Love-Listen. We need to step out of our typical Fixit-Listening mode that greatly hinders our getting the frosting of what our ears and heart are wanting to savor.

Love-Listening might be compared to the soft clay on the potter's wheel. It must be soft and fully ready to receive the directions of the potter's hands.

So ...
1. We've learned how to Love-Listen and savor it before we could walk and talk.
2. A special kind of Love-Listening is cherished as we listen to God's word shared with us.
3. In that scriptures we first heard long ago, we saw evidence of terrible results of people who were stiff-necked and unwilling to yield to their Creator's hands.

It's ironic that high on an ex-teen's want list is for someone to listen; to really listen; to Love-Listen to them and their struggles that they feel have no remedy. We silver-haired seniors must 'listen' to the stressed confused youth help cries of youth with orange hair, chains, tattoos, black facial paint, sudden fits of anger for no apparent reason, hidden cuts and piercings of torment.

Even if you have a tear-filled burden for ex-teens, you must first and fully, place yourself on the Creator's pottery wheel. You must begin reading scripture with anticipation; with expectation, that develops your "Love-Listening" skills as the Holy Spirit envelopes your soul and spirit with truth and love.

You can tell if this process is working in you, because the flames will grow; those flames of compassion brighten and spread in your burden for teens all around you.

Love-Listening to scripture colors and sweetens our 'Victory-in-Jesus' attitudes to see this is only half the truth. Whether it's fighting giants before us, reaching out to teens, or savoring the 'More-than-conquerors' principle of Romans 8:37, Love-Listening to scripture is where it all starts - and continues each day.

Love-Listening in Prayer

In our hurried daily agendas, our prayers are bursting with our talking. Yes we praise our Savior for His abilities, His goodness to us, and telling Him our needs that increasingly crowds out the first two. It's like we're sending Him an audible telegram, sandwiched between other daily events we often put higher priority on than talking (and listening) to the One giving us the very best Heaven had to

But anticipating exciting things from scripture, I can still remember the library chair I was sitting in, many years ago. The Holy Spirit drew my attention to an unusual phrase in the inspired letter Paul sent to the church in Thessalonica as recorded in 1st Thess. 4:11. We expect libraries to admonish, "Please be quiet. People are studying."

But now notice how Paul turns that around. He doesn't say to be quiet to study, he says to study to be quiet. I always relish applying that concept in my intimate communication with God. It's like Paul is telling us we need to be quiet in a way we can show respect, we can devote our full attention to what we're hearing or reading - it's worth it - it's frosting to our faith.

Love-Listening in prayer is really tapping into God's direction for our lives each day. Make the MAJOR portion of your prayer LISTENING; Love-Listening to your Potter as He molds you into beauty; maybe even a lighthouse in the life of an ex-teen headed for a rocky future in torment.