It seems we are often too quick to react because of what we see, rather than to respond because of what we hear. Consequently, to actually listen is rare these days. One might frustratingly ask, “Are you deaf?”

To listen may be necessary for human discourse, but it is not normal. To know and be known is often a posture that we automatically assume. However, it takes time and intentionality to truly listen; to ask for, and take in what another is wanting to express. It takes time and intentionality to accurately receive what is being passionately conveyed. As well, it is really hard to connect with the heart of another, when your own heart is hurting and bleeding. Yet, the question inwardly begs, “Are you listening?”

To be sole-focused can
also mean to be

When there is so much noise it’s hard to listen. Focus is easily inhibited. Surrounded by so much overload and distraction it’s really tough to concentrate, let alone communicate. I can see lips moving on the troubled face in front of me, yet my mind is elsewhere. I may be easily distracted from the rigors of deciphering, or I may be arming myself with my own barrage of expression; no reflection, just reaction. Still, I must pause enough to ask myself, “Am I still listening?”

What kind of “space” would enable me to better listen? What would it take? I suppose it makes sense to know myself enough to evaluate what I need to get there. Since I am not the same as the next person, what I actually need may be different from others. Also, the same is true for the particular “season” that I am in. What worked for me then, may not work for me now. Is that space cluttered or cleared? Is it a stimulating environment or a quieting one? Is it a place of ongoing motion and emotion or a place free from the many and the much? In effect, “What do I need to be able to listen?”

Turn things off before you tune out. This is sometimes easier said than done! We try to be so good at multitasking, even though we rarely succeed, while at the same time, what we portray to another is disinterest and disrespect. So tune in. To be sole-focused can also mean to be soul-focused. If I am to get anywhere other than frustrated and discouraged by another, I need to remove that which gets in my way of understanding. Simply put, “Am I paying attention?”

*The word listen in Latin is audire. If we listen with full attention in which we are totally geared to listen, it’s called ob-audire, and that’s where the word obedience comes from. Jesus is the obedient one. That means he is total ear, totally open to the love of God. And if we are closed, and to the degree that we are closed, we are surdus. That is the Latin word for deaf. The more “deaf” we get, the more absurdus.

Henri J. M. Nouwen, A Spirituality of Living: The Henri Nouwen Spirituality Series

This is all so true for one wanting to hear from God. It does not work to be busy multitasking. Neither is it good to surround ourselves with “other voices” (even if they are good messages or good worship songs). To hear the voice of God is to unplug AND pay attention at the same time. Likely this cannot happen unless we create space to do so. If I desire to hear the voice of God and to know His heart, then I must ask myself, “Am I listening?”

We live alone in a cacophony of people reacting. However, to live together in community we must all intentionally listen, and become a people responding. The louder the voice, the farther away from each other we actually get. So, to not listen would be absurd!* I may not feel that I have the time or the patience to do so, but healthy relationship requires it. To love is to listen.

God has the time and the patience. And, He desires a relationship that requires being known. I may require to be heard. The question is whether or not I am creating that much needed space in my Life, where I can say, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” – RWO/MAST

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
John 10:27 NIV