It’s World Listening Day, but who in the world are we listening to?
My daughter, Abi, is learning the violin, and I’m amazed at how much attention is needed—bow straight, scroll lifted, elbow down—before we hear a tuneful noise! The main thing she has to do to find a pleasant sound, of course, is concentrate and listen.
A beautiful secret Abi’s recently learned, is how to draw out the final note at the end of a piece to create that silent pause that holds the room, right before the general mayhem of life fills the space! It’s almost supernatural. Upon finishing the final climactic note, she grins, paying close attention to me as if she’s measuring her success by the tingles sent down my spine!
I’ve noticed that the better Abi listens, the better she connects with the tune, and the better she plays. Isn’t life like that, though? We’re all on a journey of figuring out what to listen to. We hear all sorts of voices, and it can feel like quite an effort to lean in and locate the few important voices that we value the most. And, when we do manage to take time to listen to those important voices, what’s our response?
When God speaks, or more literally, when we listen to Him, it changes everything. It makes us see things differently. It results in us acting differently. It sends tingles down our spines when the secrets He whispers teach us there is something more, an alternative to the voices that can sometimes squeak and squawk—appalling and dismaying us. Yet all too often we find that we listen to and act on the harsh voices instead of His gentle whispers!
In my work at Tearfund, I am also purposeful in tuning in to the voices of people who are sometimes harder to hear. Harder to hear because they are far away, different, or somehow silenced. Since it’s World Listening Day (or even if it isn’t), do you want to hear some secrets of what they’re saying?
First, what kinds of things do people living the poorest parts of the world say?
- “I want my children to have a different life. They might be engineers or doctors. I hope my children will do good in our community.”
- “We got more light when solar power came to our village—now I can do my homework until 10:00pm!”
- “It’s time to act and take appropriate measures or the next generation will suffer.”
And, what does God say to us, as we listen and respond?
- Trust me as the source of life and provision for the true, deepest needs of body, mind, and spirit.
- Just like the walls of Jericho, I can cause the big challenges you face to come tumbling down.
- Be courageous and take big steps!
- You can come close to listen to Me; don’t be afraid that I won’t speak when you need Me!
- I am bigger than all the poverty in the world.
- As you love and listen to one another, you love Me.
On World Listening Day, amongst the many challenges, I hear great hope. For God makes no secret of the fact that we can believe in Him for big things—even the eradication of extreme poverty in our lifetime! “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has known, what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
I’ve noticed I find myself humming Abi’s violin tunes throughout my day. And the more I listen to people living in poverty, the more I discover my own spiritual poverty, and the more I listen to what God says about all of it. Then, the more I find my activities and work humming along to God’s tuneful, powerful, and faithful symphony, day by day, and week by week. The more I listen, the better I play.