Tag Archives: listening

Deaf or Just Hard-of-Hearing

None so deaf as those that will not hear. None so blind as those that will not see.
~Matthew Henry

I just spent a few days with some family members who are on the other side of the green field. You have to make sure they are looking at you when you speak . . . loudly. Otherwise, you won’t be heard.

I’ve been very public about my own hearing issues. Perhaps I’m not so far away from that side of the field myself.

Jesus encountered some hard-of-hearing people, too.

In Luke 14:35, Jesus says, “Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Then in 15:1, we find out who has the ears to hear.

“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathered around to hear him.”

By now Jesus has a large following. His name is out there. He’s twittered, posted, and chatted for years and his platform is huge. 5,000 men show up for his luncheon. Women and children flock to meet him and call him blessed.

So why is it that the ones listening aren’t the leaders of the community? Why don’t they have ears to hear?

Because Jesus says some hard things.

He says that everyone is invited into the kingdom. Every sheep is brought safely into the fold. Every brother is loved, every sinner forgiven, every child wanted.

He treats everyone the same.

She sits alone at the church potluck, surrounded by groups of laughing people who have more in common with each other than with her.

He stands alone at the conference, his body contorted with spasms but his mind free and frisky.

She sits, eyes lowered, with her ratty-tattered children waiting for your hand-out.

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Luke 15:1-2 NIV

Are you listening to Jesus or are you muttering about the welfare check, the useless riff-raff, the immigrant?

Jesus tells his listeners three stories of lost things being found.

‘But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” Luke 15:32 NIV

Can you hear him? Do you have ears to hear?


Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. Matthew 7:24 NIV

Yogurt Deodorant

In our digital age, the Golden Rule is not enforced online. ~Whitney Wolfe

Several years ago I noticed something was changing. I wasn’t hearing things correctly. It became very apparent the day I brought home yogurt for my son.

“Here’s your yogurt.” I set it on the counter in front of him.

“Thanks?” He looked confused. “Where’s my deodorant?”

“What do you mean?”

I had no clue. The boy had asked for yogurt. Here was the yogurt. Was I supposed to read his mind that he needed deodorant?

It turns out I didn’t need to read his mind, I just needed to listen carefully. He hadn’t asked for yogurt, but he did need deodorant.

In Luke 8, Jesus tells the people to consider carefully how they listen.

Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.

 Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.”

He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.” Luke 8:18-21

How do you listen carefully?
By putting God’s word into practice.

Is someone trying to sabotage you at work?  Is your ex trying to turn the children against you? Does your neighbor threaten court proceedings for the tree on your border?

Jesus said to pray for our enemies.

Does a friend’s constant chatter about her new car make you want to slash her tires? Do you stay away from the baby showers because you’re angry with God for withholding a child? Maybe you schedule your car for a tune-up so you don’t have to meet the “Happy Pappies” for breakfast to talk about another trip abroad.

God tells us to rejoice with others.

You mutter all the way to work about your children making you late again. -Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.

You call the church fellowship committee to say that you can’t be a part of this weekend’s event. Something came up that sounds like “cap on the pouch.” -Let your yes be yes and your no be no.

Take care of widows and orphans. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Don’t look lustfully or covetously at another. Honor your father and mother.

How carefully are you listening? Are you putting the Word into practice?


Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. James 1:22-25 NIV

Leaping and Listening

Why is it that when we talk to God we’re said to be praying but when God talks to us we’re schizophrenic? ~Lily Tomlin

I was about seven months pregnant with my first son, when my husband left for a weekend church retreat. Friday and Saturday passed with no movement from my active little fellow. I became concerned.

Sunday morning I sat in the pew, waiting. My husband walked to the podium and began to preach.

The baby inside me jumped and turned in a silent “Hallelujah dance.”

He had heard his father’s voice and responded.

Mary and Elizabeth are both stunned to find themselves pregnant. Elizabeth has tried to have a baby for so many years she has stopped counting. She has probably stopped praying.

Mary is not married, isn’t even sure how a baby is made, and yet here she is– pregnant.

In fear and confusion, Mary heads to her cousin Elizabeth’s house. She knocks on the door, raises her eyes to meet Elizabeth’s gaze, and offers a hesitant, “Shalom.”

The baby inside Elizabeth leaps when it hears the sound of Mary’s voice. . . Mary so recently touched by the Holy Spirit . . . Mary so longing to know everything is going to be alright.

And Elizabeth knows what her child has heard. She is filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaims, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! . . . Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” (Luke 1:42, 45)

Elizabeth was in tune with the Spirit. She was listening for its call, watching for its coming.

Did you give $10 to the homeless man at the Spirit’s urging? Did you call that friend you haven’t heard from in years? Did you stop to pray for the passenger in the passing ambulance? Did you carry groceries for the mother with three children pulling on her pants? Did you encourage the humming teen in the checkout line to keep singing praises?

Do you know when you hear the sound of God approaching?

Are you listening for his voice?


Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.  Proverbs 3:6 MSG

Do I Have to Yell?

I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening. ~Larry King

When my father first met my sister-in-law, he spoke very loudly. She isn’t hard of hearing . . . just foreign.

We’ve all done it. Someone doesn’t understand something you say, so you say it louder. They heard you. They just didn’t get it. No need to yell.

This morning I told my husband I wanted him to think on something before answering me. “Don’t just jump the gun and say ‘No.'”

Should I pick up some extra hours – read that as pay – by working evenings this month. The kids are out of school and can take classes during the day hours. FYI, I work on Beijing Time.

Matt left for work and I continued my quiet time. The daily devotional book I read was about slowing down, the book I picked up this weekend at the library sale was about finding your focus and sticking to it, and then, out of nowhere, a friend texted me a devotional about rest.

Evidently God needed to yell for me to get it.

Do you hear God yelling?

Are you praying for a friend’s failing marriage while you feel guilty that you haven’t spoken to your own husband for a week?

Did you get an email about a retreat the same day your best friend suggested you get away for a while?

Did the four-year-old most precious thing in the world wrap her arms around your neck while they announced at church that they need teacher’s in Bible class?

God knows how to speak your language. Are you listening?


“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Luke 6:47 ESV

When the Word Is Quiet

The measure of a conversation is how much mutual recognition there is in it; how much shared there is in it. If you’re talking about what’s in your own head, or without thought to what people looking and listening will feel, you might as well be in a room talking to yourself. ~Dylan Moran

“Go on in the living room.” Katherine’s voice echoed down the hallway.

An old woman sat in the hard, wooden chair. White hair framed a glaring face.

“Go here. Go there. I just want to know why.” Mary struggled to speak, her voice barely a whisper. But her body was yelling loud enough.

I walked over to see what was going on.

A stroke took away most of Mary’s voice, and age has taken away her strength. Mary whispers everything she says. Katherine is hearing impaired and couldn’t understand Mary’s angry outburst.

I squatted next to Mary and asked what was wrong.

“No one ever tells me what’s going on. ‘Go here. Go there. Take a bath.’ But they never tell me why. I just want to know why.”

“Well, Miss Mary, I’m Traci. I come to read every week.” I placed my hand on her knee, and she looked in my eyes. “You always come in the living room and listen to me read. Would you like to come in today and listen?”

She covered my hand with her own. “Yes, I would.” She grasped the chair arm and began the painful process of standing. Katherine tried to help. “You go away.” Mary whisper-yelled at Katherine.

She grabbed her walker and followed me to the living room.

“I just want to know why.” I lift my eyes to heaven, but the answer is incomprehensible. “Why do I have to do this? Why do I have to go there?” Nothing. The answer is inaudible, and I am hard of hearing.

Mary didn’t follow me because she was desperate to hear my story that day. She followed me because I am familiar. She found me to be gentle and reassuring.

Sometimes I need a gentle, reassuring mediator, too. I cry out to God, but his voice is too quiet, my ears too deaf. I don’t know what to do, so I sit stubbornly in my chair glaring at the world in confusion.

Then the Spirit whispers words I mostly don’t understand, but they are gentle and familiar. I take Jesus’s hand and follow him to the Father’s throne room where I am a part of the story.

And so are you.


Every house has a builder, but the Builder behind them all is God. Moses did a good job in God’s house, but it was all servant work, getting things ready for what was to come. Christ as Son is in charge of the house. Now, if we can only keep a firm grip on this bold confidence, we’re the house! That’s why the Holy Spirit says, Today, please listen; don’t turn a deaf ear as in “the bitter uprising,” that time of wilderness testing! Hebrews 3:5-7 MSG

Are You Listening?

“Part of doing something is listening. We are listening. To the sun. To the stars. To the wind.”  ~Madeleine L’Engle, Swiftly Tilting Planet

As the mother of two very talkative sons, sometimes I don’t quite listen. Several years ago they were very, very interested in Star Wars. It was the only thing they talked about at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And being stuck in the van with them meant being captive to their incessant light saber, hero, super-powers talking. Finally, I told them I would not listen to it anymore.

The thing is. . . I hadn’t been listening for a long time already. I had tuned out what they were saying because I didn’t want to hear it. I wasn’t interested in what they were discussing. I had more important things to deal with. I couldn’t be bothered.

Somehow that attitude transferred itself to other areas of my life. I half listened to friends while I thought about what I needed to be doing next. I “mm hm-ed” on the phone as I washed dishes and wished the speaker would hurry it up. I planned dinner while the kids told me the latest news, worked on plot twists while Matt unwound by telling me his own stories, and typed out a blog while my mother talked on the speaker phone.

So a few weeks ago, I decided it was time for me to start listening. People all around me have things to share, and I can be the ear they need to listen. I had no idea where I was about to be lead.

A few days into the “listening experiment” I asked God if he could help me to slow down and be an ear to someone who needed it that day. Then I headed into my busy day- drop Amos off at the orthodontist, stop by the dump to get rid of the recycling, head to the grocers, check at the pet store to see how my book is selling, and then back to get Amos. Forty-five minutes? No problem!

I dropped Amos off, stopped by the pet store- the owner was in a meeting, so I said I would come back- and then headed to the dump. On the way there I had to slam on the brakes, and recycling with a lidless kefir container in it went spilling all over the back of the van. I cleaned it up as best I could and thought I would stop in the restroom to wash at the grocery.

A shopping cart with a small girl, perhaps two years old, was parked in front of one of the stalls. I used the other and then went to wash up. A woman appeared out of the other stall and as the child cried, the mother exclaimed, “I just don’t get it! What do you think?” I looked over, and she held a positive pregnancy test. She went on to tell me that she had had an ultrasound that morning and was told the baby had died. The doctor prescribed a medication to help her get rid of the fetus, but she was afraid to hurt the baby if a mistake had been made. What did I think she should do?

Really, God?  I stayed with her a while, listened, offered my advice, and prayed for her. Then I headed  off to the pet store again.

There I discovered that the owner’s husband had had a heart attack and died the week before, her aunt had also died that week, and her son’s pet had died that morning. OK, God, I get it.

I realize that people are hurting around us all of the time. The woman in the stall next to you. The cashier at the pet store. People everywhere need a listening ear. But busyness and lack of interest turn down the volume so that we don’t have to hear what everyone else needs to say.

And then Matt preached it on Sunday. God wants to speak to us, but are we listening? Well of course I’m listening! I mean who wouldn’t want to hear God, right!?

Only maybe I am listening like I used to be listening, not noticing the woman next to me crying over the loss of a wanted child, not hearing the pain and fatigue in another’s voice who is struggling with loss. What if I am ignoring God because what he has to say isn’t easy to listen to or I don’t particularly want to hear what he has to say?

So now I add to my prayer, God let me be an ear to those who need to talk AND let me have ears to hear you, no matter what you have to say, — even if I have to listen to Star Wars.


Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4 NIV