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Friday, March 22, 2013

Listening?

There are definitely times when we listen, but we just don’t “heed” what we are hearing, right?  We know we are hearing a clear cut warning to avoid some “event” or happening, but we go into it anyway – almost as a challenge to our common sense!  Listening and heeding are two entirely different things – one is a process, the other is an action.  We get pretty good at the process, but neglect the action.  Or the other way around – we forget about the process, launching into action.  The problem – process helps to define action, actions speak to the soundness of the process.

Now listen and give heed, O Israel, to the statutes and ordinances which I teach you, and do them, that you may live and go in and possess the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, gives you. (Deuteronomy 4:1 Amplified Bible)

As part of my job, one of the things I do is analyze processes to ensure they are working well.  When they don’t get followed, we usually have error.  When the process is outdated, because industry standards have changed, we fall behind.  When the processes are too difficult to follow, we frustrate those who have to act according to their definitions.  So, there is a fine line between a well built process and the actions you hope to produce.  The same is true in our daily lives – believe it or not, we all have “processes” we follow.  Most of us call them habits!  Think about your morning routine – rising, fixing coffee, showering, dressing – all are processes which have become “habit” to us.  We don’t think through the process anymore – it is routine.  What happens if someone or something throws a wrench in the process – such as the utilities being off due to a power outage, or water main break?  I know for me – the hair would still have to be washed, the teeth brushed, and the body cleansed.  My “process” may be interrupted, but the outcomes still need to occur.

Here is where we often run into troubles with process and action.  We want the actions to occur, but we don’t know how to resolve the issues with the process.  Relationships fall apart when processes no longer apply – processes have to evolve as the relationship evolves, right?  It is as I indicated above – if I rely upon old processes to get the new results I desire to see, it won’t happen!  We need new processes designed to “fit” where we are “at” today.  In relationships, whether they are with our Lord or someone here on this earth, must be evaluated for the efficacy of what we are doing within those relationships.  Sometimes we go through the motions, without ever thinking about the “what” behind those actions.  In turn, you probably hear someone say, “We aren’t connecting the way we used to.”  In the natural sense, this is a wake up call.  In a spiritual sense, this is a loving prompting by our Lord to look at the “process” for purpose, potential, and passion.

One thing I have noticed about God – he is concerned about “how” we get to where we are going just as much as “where” it is we are heading.  For him, there has to be a distinct purpose in our actions – scripture defines this as keeping him central, doing his will, being obedient, etc.  It also means recognizing the potential in the activity we are engaging in – simply because not all activity is wise, profitable, or in keeping with his plans for our lives.  In turn, he examines the passion by which we follow any process in our lives – if there is the lack of a heart response, we miss the intention of the process of following him.

So, as our passage suggests, there is a process – listening.  There is also an action required – heeding.  Heeding involves paying close attention to the details.  If we truly are listening, we begin to piece together the various “process” components.  For example:  God says he wants us to give time each day to him.  We hear, “God wants us to SPEND time with him each day.”  What is the difference?  One process suggests we are “spending” some of our precious time – almost like making a withdrawal from the checking account to “plunk down” on the one we love.  The other suggests we are “giving” time – sacrificially, lovingly, and willingly.  I don’t know about you, but I have a whole lot of “expenditures” in life which are just because I have to – like auto insurance, a nursing license, etc.  Then there are others which I do because there is something rewarding in my “exchange” of a little part of what I have – like when I see a need and move to meet it.  We see the “process” differently when we rightly “hear” what God is saying – “Give me your time – don’t just spend it on me.”

So, are you doing any process examination today?  If you are like the rest of us, you probably are, or will be very soon.  As you do, remember the process is what helps to define action, actions reveal the “influence” and “soundness” of the process.  Just sayin!