Well, I am on the road again. Since May 30th, I have been to Atlanta, Georgia; toured the entire country of Israel; am now headed to Corpus Christi on business and my summer fun just began.
Through each trip, the Lord reminds me that listening is a important spiritual skill. God is healing and refining my spiritual ears. Now you know – I am a talker. Listening is easier for some of us, but is quite the struggle for most of us. God is showing me that there is a definite difference between listening and hearing.
Family Feud was my first line-of-fire listening experience. When you operate under great stress and high pressure, listening becomes even more important. I couldn’t ask myself, “How do I look,” or “What do I think.” The staff at Family Feud constantly reminded us to listen and not answer what we think, but to answer what we believe 100 random people would think. In the world of Family Feud, failure to listen is – well – failure.
The trip to Corpus Christi has taught me to listen during times of fatigue. Most of my mistakes are made when I am tired, not listening or really am not paying attention. When I am extremely tired, I am not interested in thinking. However, any written instructions or verbal directions from my manager are necessary for me to fully represent my employer and to correctly end up at the right location in the appropriate clothes.
Listening in the Holy Land takes on a totally different meaning. I will touch on lessons learned within the next few months, but I want to give you some examples of good listening and not-so-good listening. God speaks to us when we are right and when we are wrong.
We were instructed to listen to our guide and to be courteous when he was talking. It was difficult to hear our guide when people around me were talking about how hot it was or how pretty the sky looked. I was glad our pastor made certain everyone listened. To not listen is to choose to not learn everything there is to know about a particular historical spot or experience.
We were asked to be respectful of our guide and of the local citizens. Somewhere around day three, a member of our group wanted to debate about the rights to land in the country of Israel. If he had been trying to debate with a Jewish guide, the “talk” could be considered encouraging. However, our guide was a Christian Palestinian. The member of our tour group wanted to tell this Palestinian man how the “Arabs” have all the land they deserve and they need to move out of Israel. I gasped. Good thing my pastor didn’t hear the arrogant rant. It wouldn’t have been pretty.
My goal was to walk where Jesus walked, to listen to my guide, and to listen to what God wanted to say to me at each stop along the way. The most poignant experience was on the Sea of Galilee when the boat stopped, there was nothing but silence, and we were encouraged to listen to the sounds of the sea realizing they were the exact same sounds Christ heard when He road in a boat across to the other side.
I hope I was listening well and I believe I heard. Thank you, Jesus!