This Lenten season, I’ve been pondering the beauty of a most pervasive Jesus, of a God who is always near. Rather than give up something like chocolate or social media, the season has looked more like digging deep for me – a time of stewarding time, focusing rightly, tackling strongholds in my life, and sharing kindness more freely. I know, it sounds rather pragmatic and downright dull. But for a girl who lets the stones of anxiety, comparison, doubt, and fear linger on the path of faith, the yielding of heart-things has been difficult and liberating.
My church has been encouraging us to focus on one spiritual discipline each week as we walk through the Lenten season together. First it was to offer blessing with our words, then to gather others together for a meal, then to embrace the beauty of silence. This week, we are encouraged to practice holy listening – giving God our full attention. The disciplines build on each other in a way. Blessing invites gathering invites silence invites listening. And the most precious thing about listening well is our posture – we lean in. We get close. We feel the breath of the one who is speaking.
I admit, listening is a gift I want to give well – to both God and to you. After all these years, I’m still learning. Far too often, I complete sentences in my mind, jump to the next chapter of someone’s story, calculate what I believe might be an appropriate response, or wander away mentally to something else that tickles my fancy.
I want to be a holy listener – to hear God reveal purpose in every moment and to welcome Him into every conversation, to celebrate and embrace both the times when He is bold with His words and times when He is strong in His stillness. I believe that, in hearing Him more clearly, I’ll hear you more clearly too. That’s my heart’s desire.
And so I’m leaning in. I’m getting close.
Today, a friend asked, “What have you heard so far in this season?”
Today, the answer is this, born from Ezekiel 47. I asked God to speak, asked Him to help me listen. Today, His response sounded like paraphrase and metaphor. It sounded like promise.
Wherever Your river flows, life follows.
Wherever Your waves crash, life changes.
You, Oh God, are like water
You are spring, stream, brook, creek, pond, lake, ocean.
At Your shores, life begins.
Breathless in Your depths, I find life.
He walked to the east with a measuring tape and measured off fifteen hundred feet, leading me through water that was ankle-deep. He measured off another fifteen hundred feet, leading me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another fifteen hundred feet, leading me through water waist-deep. He measured off another fifteen hundred feet. By now it was a river over my head, water to swim in, water no one could possibly walk through. He said, “Son of man, have you had a good look? Then he took me back to the riverbank. While sitting on the bank, I noticed a lot of trees on both sides of the river. He told me, “This water flows east, descends to the Arabah and then into the sea, the sea of stagnant waters. When it empties into those waters, the sea will become fresh. Wherever the river flows, life will flourish… (Ezekiel 47:3-9)
I am praying to love more deeply the sound of His. I pray that for you too.