Saturday, 7 November 2009

listening: to You, and to Your family... and gongs and cymbals and keeping our eyes on You, the composer and conductor and teacher!

November 6, 2009

You put that on my heart last night – “Just listen.” Papa, we DO need someone to listen to us. Of course we do have YOU – and yes, that “should” be enough! BUT I wonder… I know You recognize (having walked in our shoes, taken on our bodies and lives Yourself), that we seem sometimes (often, especially in the toughest, confusing, “alone” times) to need You “with skin on” … to be able to see and touch and know for sure that You are listening, that You are here, and that You care (that is, after all, a large part of why You came, Jesus, to make the Father KNOWN!)…. I am sure that is part of the reason You have given us Your family and told us to gather and encourage and edify and pray for each other (all of which requires conversation to some degree… which of course requires LISTENING to each other speak! And it is NOT ours to judge. You are the ONE who judges, the only ONE who truly knows each heart, and therefore the only one who can judge rightly!. And while we can teach and encourage and set an example, ultimately it is You who reaches the heart – as Paul wrote, one plants, another waters, but it is YOU who brings the growth.

I think we also need listeners because it is difficult for us to sort things out “in our heads.” That is why I write things down on paper… it “dumps” it all out, allows me to “look at it” (with YOU!!!!), to sort it out, to organize, to junk that which needs to be junked… and in the process, I find You, always, joining me in the process, pointing things out, making suggestions… joining in the conversation! Loving me! Yes!

And I’m thinking that is also how You want to work through us to reach into the lives of others. Your Word talks about how fellow believers, especially those You have given us to teach, guide, nourish, encourage, love!... as “2… our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3. … a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Corinthians 3:2-3). Paul was speaking specifically of “letters of reference” but I think it goes well beyond that, too! You have given me a particular means of communicating with You (journaling, story writing, letter and email writing) – and with Your family! But ALL of us are called to communication, all of us are called to be “living letters!” - encouraging, listening, exhorting, LISTENING! In LOVE, without judging (for none of us can judge totally rightly – only You know the hearts and motives and circumstances etc of each person! Only Your love is perfect! But as Your Spirit lives within us, our spirits grow in Your love and we too can – must! – share it with others!).

1 Corinthians 13:1 “If I… do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2. If I… do not have love, I am nothing.”

Papa, that is right. That is exactly what happens in a church when Your love is not truly there. (We SAY we love You and love each other… but our actions speak louder than our words! Love isn’t a warm, mushy feeling we get when we hug each other, have a potluck together, take part in some “awesome worship time” …)

NO! Love is when the gong and the cymbals take their rightful place in the orchestra – hold silence till exactly the right moment, when suddenly they ring out – or are played very quietly, just as the score requires – and become a beautiful part of the music. But if they ring out at any other point, they bring discord, disharmony, ear pain! I think “gongs and cymbals” are like warnings, wake-up-calls, correcting, pointing our problems… even, perhaps, disciplining… when done in love (true love, YOUR LOVE) they are beautiful and harmonious and healing… but used otherwise, they are grating, annoying, painful, hurtful, discordant, dis-unifying, destructive!

And how do we know when the “gong and cymbal” are appropriate? When YOUR SPIRIT prompts their use – YOU, the compose, the conductor, the orchestra teacher who chooses the instruments and gives them to the musicians who You choose and train, prepare, gift! (So often, we go rushing in and grab the wrong instrument and start squawking, squeaking, clashing… I have pain in my ears and head thinking of it… remembering in my high school band days those painful moments of learning new instruments – and of the band beginning to “tune up” … as long as everyone was trying to tune up their own instrument, on their own, there was this terrible, horrible, painful discord – like a bunch of barnyard animals in terrible pain! But then the band teacher, the conductor, would pick up his baton and wave it for everyone to be quiet… and then he’d call for a “C” perhaps… and everyone would play that one note together… which would be much better, but still not quite right. And then the conductor would stop us, and point over to the clarinets, perhaps, or to the trumpets, or which ever group of instruments, and have that group play the note… and then perhaps to just one or two players who needed special help…and those players would be helped to get their instruments in tune… and before long, the band would be ready to practice and then perform, to play together, to present the concert… the music swelling, lifting, then descending quietly, then one or two players perhaps performing a beautiful solo part, and then the rest joining in joyfully, beautifully – as long as all the players kept their eyes on the conductor, even as they also watched the music score.

I remember so often, our band teacher would have to stop us and remind us that without keeping our eyes on him, we would quickly get off-track, no matter how well we could play our instruments, and no matter how well we could read the music, and even no matter how well we listened to each other – usually a good thing, but a disaster if we started following someone who was already out of tune or off the beat! (And sometimes, our conductor would choose to adjust the score, to perhaps add a solo part, or emphasize a certain group of instruments… the composer’s score didn’t change, but there was room for the conductor to “interpret” it.. and that is especially true of You, Who are the perfect composer and conductor and teacher and guide!  Oh Papa! Help us to listen to You!!! Help us to keep our eyes on You!! Help us to keep our spirits totally in tune, in obedience, with Your Spirit!!!

(The score, Your Word, is of course very important; the other band members – Your children, Your family – are important; the instruments – the gifts, talents, even the “programs” sometimes, are important… but only when all eyes are on the conductor, and all players are obedient to the conductor, above all!)

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