Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life. (James 1:21 MSG)
A couple of instructions for our safe passage are found in this verse - not for the safe passage at those city intersections, but at those 'intersections' in our lives where we are forced to make tough decisions or pay attention with a heightened intensity. At the center of it all is a listening ear - the ear is to lead us because it is attentive to instruction. To have a hearing ear, one has to have a focused mind - we rarely hear clearly if we aren't paying particular attention. This is one thing I have learned by having a hard of hearing parent - if she isn't paying attention carefully, she misses what is said. To share something important with her, I must first get and hold her attention. The same is so true in our own lives when it comes to God giving us any instruction - he has to first 'get' our attention and then he is challenged these days to actually 'hold' it for very long! There are so many distractions that it easy to be led by something other than the clear voice of God's truth!
The tongue is mentioned second because so many times when we are confused or only 'half-hear' something, we begin to speak and that only adds to the volume of 'noise' God has to filter out in order for us to actually begin to hear him! When mom cannot hear what I am saying, she begins to repeat back, or say something like, "Huh, what did you say about the..." Why is it that we humans seek to interject instead of letting those things sink in a bit? The thing I have observed is that she often hears what is being said, but actually begins to say she didn't hear it before she allows it to kind of 'sink in' a little. If she just pauses and considers what I said, she often gets a pretty good idea of what is being said. The ear may have missed something, but it really heard more than she may have realized. The tongue can get in the way of us hearing at times - so rather than leading with the tongue, allow it to follow up on what is heard - but not before we take the time and effort to hear. Yes, we may have to ask for things to be repeated, but the more attention to listening first, the less we will need to ask to have things repeated!
Have you noticed the clever ways those who design roadways and intersections actually choose the landscaping that is used at these transition points? There is a 'grade' to the intersection that is specifically designed for things like the speed of the vehicle approaching the intersection point and even the ways the headlights of each vehicle will reflect upward or downward as that approach is made. Some of the 'grading' of the landscape allows the right angle to be met for safe passage with minimal distraction by things that momentarily 'blind us' in that passage. The Word of God is a great 'landscaper' in our lives. The more we allow the Word to create the things that bring safety and safe passage in our lives, the easier it is to maneuver when these 'intersection moments' occur. We will always have these moments, but they are best navigated when the Word of God has created the right 'grade' upon which our passage can occur! Just sayin!