Planted By God to Display His Glory -Isaiah 61:3

Posts tagged ‘listening’

Listening for the Words of Life

Human communication is inherently flawed. When I said to my thirteen-year-old daughter, “You’re going to be late for school,” she heard she was a failure. That she didn’t measure up to some personal standard of perfection I had for her.

Whoa! That’s crazy! My mouth never uttered such words of condemnation!

My husband casually says, “The house is a mess,” and guess what? I decide I’m suddenly the lousiest wife on the planet.

How do simple statements like these get translated into beliefs that we’re not good enough?

What we say is so often not the same as what is heard!

I don’t intend to speak words that are hurtful, yet sometimes they end up being just that. People around me don’t intend their words to be hurtful to me, yet I interpret them that way. Why?

I don’t have a clue, so I’ve studied the Bible to figure out some answers. I think I have a tidbit of revelation to share, and it starts with this passage in Exodus:

“I am God. I will bring you out from under the cruel hard labor of Egypt. I will rescue you from slavery. I will redeem you, intervening with great acts of judgment. I’ll take you as my own people and I’ll be God to you. You’ll know that I am God, your God who brings you out from under the cruel hard labor of Egypt. I’ll bring you into the land that I promised to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and give it to you as your own country. I AM God.” But when Moses delivered this message to the Israelites, they didn’t even hear him—they were that beaten down in spirit by the harsh slave conditions. Exodus 6:6-9 The Message

They didn’t even hear him?

Hello? These were words from God! How could they not listen?

they were that beaten down in spirit by the harsh slave conditions.

This was their reality. Everything they heard was put through a filter of what they believed, through experience, to be true. Think about it from their perspective…you are a captive, a slave, and for generations there has been no evidence to give you any hope that you will ever be anything but a slave. No matter what you hear, your truth is in what you believe to be true about yourself.

I ask you, are we so different?

When my husband said “The house is a mess” he was just making a statement of fact. It was a mess. I was the one who put it through a filter of what I believed about myself…and it revealed, not what he believed about me, but what I believed about myself!

I do the same thing with words of praise. Instead of receiving them as words of life, I find reasons to persist in my belief that they just could not be true about me…After all, I know myself!

Can anybody relate?

I read my Bible and I hear God’s promises spoken to me. Yup, even those go through the Linda’s-not-good-enough filter.

But how could I not listen to the words of God?!

I was that beaten down in spirit by my own harsh criticisms.

I spent too many years as a slave to a habit of  self-doubt and condemnation. But thankfully, God’s truth and love are stronger than the chains that seek to bind me to the lies. I’m breaking free. From the bondage of lies into the freedom of  life.

I’m now able to hear….to listen for the words of life.

The next time I tell my daughter she’s late and she thinks my words are condemning her, I pray I can communicate that she is loved and wonderful, she just needs to know there’s no time to dry her hair!

The next time my husband comments on the state of the house, I pray I can say, “Yeah, you’re right,” instead of  telling myself “I’m a lousy wife and housekeeper.”

The next time someone praises me or God reveals a promise to me, I pray I can receive and believe that what they say—and what God says—is true for me!

And today, I say to you…

You are wonderful, beautiful, worthy, holy, and dearly loved with an everlasting love. You have been chosen, adopted and anointed as a child of God, and nothing—absolutely nothing can separate you from His love!

Are you listening??  🙂

“Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.” Isaiah 55:2-3 (NIV)

       

         ~ Linda

© Linda Crawford, Sunny Side Up (not scrambled), 2011.  All rights reserved.

Is This Real Life?

One little boy asks his dad, “Is this real life?”

Millions laugh.

Another little boy tells his dad, “Heaven is for real.”

Millions listen. 

 

 

Millions of people ask “Is this real life?” every day. And millions listen for an answer.

What will they hear from us? From the story of our lives? And will it be real?

What will they hear from me?

A three-year old is not afraid to tell his story. I am. But today, I need to do it anyway. Because I came as close to heaven as I ever have a few weeks ago. And there are things about my life to share. So refill your coffee because it’s a long breakfast today, and I pray you get a little taste of heaven along the way…

…Nobody told me Jesus was real when I was a kid. I knew him as the guy in the Bible who was born in a manger, walked on water, died on a cross, and came to life again. He was a cool story character, with superhero characteristics, that people liked to talk about on Christmas and Easter.

I never once remember a person talking to me about knowing Jesus. Or that I could talk to Him and He would answer. That He could be my best friend. That He was my savior. That the empty hole in my heart could only be filled by knowing and loving Him.

Jesus was served to me like one of those fake plastic dessert displays some restaurants mistakenly think will inspire you to want to eat them…dust and all. I couldn’t stick a fork in what was presented to me. It wasn’t real. So I wasn’t buying.

But that didn’t stop Jesus from pursuing a relationship with me, and showing me how real He really was. Like the time I was eleven, sleeping in a big one room cabin with my family at a country resort. In the middle of the night a huge bright light came in through the window across the room from my bed and woke me up. I watched it move over me and then over each of my sleeping family members. It was so beautiful and I was suddenly filled with incredible joy and love. It was as if I had taken a huge drink of heaven…like nothing on earth I had ever experienced.

My parents were baffled and unable to console me when we got home as I cried for three hours straight, telling them I did not want “it” to end. I couldn’t explain what “it” was at the time. All they could figure was that I had such a good time on the trip that I didn’t want the trip to end. That wasn’t it. I had experienced IT and I never wanted to lose it.

I was thirty-two when IT showed up again as I cried in the shower. I had just prayed “Jesus if you are real, I need to know, because I’m not going to make it.” By this time I had heard people talk about a real Jesus. One who would love me, guide me, forgive me, save me, and give me the hope I so desperately needed to go on. The tiny shower stall filled with the same beautiful glowing light and I knew, finally, that Jesus was real. And not only was He alive in the world, He was alive in me.

IT has shown up twice since then. Ten years ago, just before my mother-in-law took her last breath, I saw the same light move behind me as I lay on a recliner next to her bed in hospice. Immediately her breathing changed and I sprang up, grabbed her hand, and witnessed the miracle of passing from this life to eternal life as she left me for the arms of Jesus.

The last time IT showed up was quite recent. And it’s taken me weeks to be able to talk about it. Even as I write these words I have not yet spoken them to anyone. These memories are so precious, so personal, so mine.

I was alone in my hospital bed a month ago. It was the middle of the night, and it was dark, but I was not afraid. In fact, I had not been afraid for many hours. Not since 3:30 pm when the nurse left me in the Emergency Room waiting area alone. I suddenly realized that they didn’t believe me when I told them I had a punctured lung. I could feel my body wanting to panic, wanting to shut down. From my medical background I knew I was headed into shock. And that shock could kill me.

I wasn’t ready to die. Nobody in the ER was ready to help me live. It was up to me and Jesus.

At first all I could do was say His name. “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” Over and over. Then I could say the Lord’s prayer. Over and over. Then my body changed direction. It calmed. Someone else had taken control and I knew I would live, no matter how long it took anyone to believe me.

That calm never left me, even when they put a tube in my chest without pain killing drugs. And even in the middle of the night, as I lay there, with every painful breath, and all I could say was His name, and all I could pray was the Lord’s prayer. Over and over and over.

I closed my eyes and the light came in the door. My eyes flew open and I saw IT again. More familiar to me now, I rejoiced in His presence. But it was a quick visit, a fleeting one that left me wishing it had not passed so soon. But I had tasted a piece of heaven again. And it changed my life forever…again.

I want to live more now than I ever have. I want to love more than I ever have. I want to laugh more than I ever have. I want to talk about Jesus more than I ever have. He is my savior, and He’s saved me more than once!

That’s my story. Is it real life? You bet. If you asked me how I know Jesus is real this is the story I need to tell you. Just like that three-year old boy experienced heaven was real, I’ve experienced Jesus is real. And He’s not just with me when the light shows up. He’s with me 24/7, and I could no more deny that He exists than I could deny my own existence.

Jesus is real. He’s not some plastic superhero Bible character.

I have my story, you have yours. Live it, breathe it, and share it, because millions are still blind:

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 NIV

I pray sharing my real life story will help the light shine out of the darkness so others may see. This is real life, my life. If you want to share what I have it’s okay to ask, “Jesus are you real?”

Then stick your fork in this, the very first scripture He led me to after I asked that same question:

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7 NIV

Trust me, when that door opens, IT will flood into your heart.

Thanks for sharing a piece of real life with me today.

          – Linda

Caffeine and the Chicken Dance

A little caffeine goes a long way with me. One cup of coffee and I’m ready to leap giant piles of laundry in a single bound, rumble through the housecleaning at top speed, or talk your ear off because my mouth and brain are in overdrive. Those are the positive effects (although my husband might argue about that last one), but there’s one side effect I’ve found that isn’t so positive…

All that charging forward and running around with boundless (although temporary) energy makes me less likely to talk to or listen to God.

Does that happen to you?

I’ve been noticing it more lately because I’m back in the routine of having one weak cup of “real” coffee every morning. It’s weak because anything stronger and I would probably start saying “beep, beep” and race crazily around the house like the Road Runner. (Please tell me you’re not too young to remember that!) But even at that dosage, I find myself waking up too fast and jumping into the activities of my day before I’ve talked to God. Or listened to God. Yikes! By the time I realize it, it’s too late to completely start over. So I cram in a quick prayer, devotion, or scripture and jump back into my daily busy-ness.

It’s not good, I know, and God’s not crazy about it either. Here’s what He has to say about my caffeinated ways:

If you quit listening, dear child, and strike off on your own, you’ll soon be out of your depth. Proverbs 19:27 The Message

God has no use for the prayers of the people who won’t listen to him. Proverbs 28:9 The Message

That doesn’t taste so good for breakfast does it? I’m racing off on my own, way out over my head without a life jacket. And God’s not too interested in my caffeine fueled prayers because my brain is like a pinball machine and I can hardly hear Him through the noise.

It’s not the way I want it to be. I want to be one of these:

Wise men and women are always learning, always listening for fresh insights. Proverbs 18:15 The Message  

Oh, to be called “wise.” Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

To be honest with you, I can’t really blame my lack of listening just on the caffeine. It’s me. I already have a tendency to jump ahead of God and think I know where I’m headed and what I’m supposed to do…and that’s where I lose Him. He’s not there in the future I’m charging into. Nope, He’s here. Right now. Speaking to me about today and wanting to give me what I need just for today.

Manna du jour, that’s what God’s words are to me each day. And just like the manna God sent to feed the Israelites in the desert, they’re only good for one day, and new every morning. Even when He sends the same words day after day, they are the bread of life for today.

So if I know all this, why do I still race ahead of God? Not make the time to listen?

I’m still a child. I don’t always trust like I should, I don’t always depend on God like I should, and I don’t always acknowledge my weaknesses like I should.

But I’m going to work on changing that starting today…starting with a change in my coffee. Decaf and time spent listening to God’s words are on the menu this morning. Oh, and the chicken dance. (I bet you thought I forgot!) It comes from my favorite quote:

Hope is hearing the music of the future. Faith is dancing to it now. Unknown

I hear the hope when I listen to God. Then I dance. I call my dancing the chicken dance because I can sometimes be a chicken when it comes to stepping out in faith and believing God’s promises for my life. But I dance anyway!

Decaf, manna du jour and the chicken dance…now that’s a full meal deal!

Thanks for sharing manna with me today. It was yummy!

                  Linda

 

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