Wednesday, October 24, 2012

In One Ear......

In a house with 3 kids, 2 of them pre-teen boys with selective hearing, there are a lot of phrases that seem to get repeated over and again and even entire conversations that seem to take place repeatedly. For those without kiddos or with little ones who haven’t yet mastered the art of tuning out mom, I’ll create a little scene that is typical of the little selective hearers!
Mom:  “Boys, it’s time to turn off the TV and get ready for bed.”
(No movement. So, mom repeats the instructions a couple of more times over the next 10 minutes.)
Mom: (a little louder the 4th time) “Boys, did you hear me? Turn off the TV and get ready for bed!”
Boys: “Ok.”
(Verbal response, but still no movement. Mom stands there and watches to see if they are going to get up and move.  Feeling her blood pressure begin to rise, she goes over and turns off the TV herself and turns to look at them with the “I’m about to lose it” expression.)
Boys: “What?”
Mom:  “If you two are not IN your beds in FIVE minutes WITH teeth brushed, you can just plan on going to bed at 8:00 from now on!!!”
Boys:  “Ok, Mom. Why are you yelling??”
Mom: “Because I’m tired of repeating myself!! I didn’t yell the first 4 times!! “
Boys:  “What did you say? We didn’t hear you!”
Mom:  “Then why did you say, “ok”??? You know what? JUST GET IN THE BED!!!!”
This little scene is exactly the type of thing that has my daughter, not even 3 yet, using the phrase, “DO YOU HEAR THE WORDS COMING OUT OF MY MOUF (aka mouth)??” She didn’t get the phrase from watching Chris Tucker say them to Jackie Chan….I did, though! I love Chris Tucker….he is hilarious and I steal his line when I’m trying to keep things light and not get so bent out of shape.  By bedtime though, I can’t seem to function that way and I need people to listen and respond!! This may be why the phrase, "Calgon, take me away!" was coined.
Can’t it drive you insane? When you need someone to really “hear the words coming out of your mouf” but they just aren’t listening?! Whether it’s getting your kids in the bed at night, explaining to your husband for the 10th year in a row why you aren’t wearing the turtleneck he got you for Christmas, “’s beautiful, I just CAN’T wear turtlenecks!”, or telling that friend, “this guy is just like the last one…..not good for you!”……no one enjoys being in the position of not being heard. MOST of the time, we’re not talking because we like the sound of our voice. I tell my kids to get in the bed because I know how miserable they will be the next day without enough rest. I tell my husband about turtlenecks, because well…I’ll never, ever wear them and I don’t want to continue to hurt his feelings by hanging them in the closet, never to be worn. When we see our friends heading for a disaster, we want to spare them. Sometimes not being heard can move beyond frustrating to an up at night, gut-wrenching prayer of "Why aren't they listening?? Why don't they see??"
Having said all that, it’s easy to conclude that sometimes it’s hard to be a mom, a wife, a friend, etc. etc.  We might be tempted to say, “Whatever….do what you want!” But, this is where real life happens…..and real ministry. We all have a ministry, whether we realize it or not, whether we’re successful at it or not.  We may have days that we’d like to abandon post, so to speak. Or, at least, send everyone ELSE to bed! But, we all, as believers, have a field of ministry...all around us. We have something that is “our thing”. It may change over time…but we have a thing.
Something that’s been rolling around in my mind over and over these last couple of years is the issue of being committed to do the thing….. Whatever our thing is. As believers, with the Word of God to guide us and the Holy Spirit to empower us, I keep asking myself, “Where is our staying power??”  If so much is wrong with our families and our churches and our nation…..WHO is going to have the gumption and the resolve to do what it takes to see “the thing” or ANYthing through?? We always want to leave the dirty work to others.  The problem is, there are some things that we are all called to do. Things like, make disciples, be an active help to the Church, love our neighbor, love our spouse like ourselves, feed the hungry, etc, but, in large part, we even take those things with a grain of salt now.  If we don’t like the way things are going…..we leave. If we don’t see the results we want….we quit. We see larger problems as something that we can’t possibly do anything about, whether talking about feeding the hungry or the degradation of the Church.
I was reading this weekend, The Explicit Gospel, by Matt Chandler, and came across a section that just hit me like a ton of bricks on the matter of staying power….even when you feel no one is listening or even cares. I can’t explain how much this has been on my mind and heart the last couple of years. (As a side note - Can I just say, God is so good in confirming His stirrings in us. That’s why I love Beth Moore’s quote she often uses, “Ain’t no high like the Most High!” He doesn’t have to reveal Himself to us…what a gift it is….nothing compares…..He is what we were made to crave.)   Back to the book I mentioned, we have probably all heard some wonderful, powerful sermons on servanthood or missions out of Isaiah 6:5-8. Let’s just read it again:
5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty! 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me.
 It’s beautiful isn’t it? I love that passage. I SO want that to be me….” Here I am Lord…. Wherever you lead….I’ll go.” Until I hear what ministry the Lord had for Isaiah. This is portion the that Matt Chandler camped on so poignantly.  And, as he said, I don’t believe I’ve ever heard a sermon preached on this portion of scripture. If so, it wasn’t something I cared to commit to memory.
Isaiah 6:9 He said, “Go and tell this people, “ ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’10 Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”
What does Isaiah say in response? Same thing I’d probably say…..  “FOR HOW LONG??”  To which the Lord basically tells him in the next few verses, “Until the cities lay in ruins and only My remnant, my true believers, remain.” What if that was our ministry?? He’s basically been given the ministry of no one listening to him. EVER! And the pain of sitting back and watching their hearts be hardened and their lives go to utter ruin as his words go in one ear and out the other.  As Matt puts it, “God is saying, ‘Isaiah, you’re going to proclaim faithfully, and they’re going to reject continually…….and I am at work in that.’”
Now, I just think how disheartening it is when I’m not getting through to my kids or that friend that’s headed for a fall.….I can feel like an utter failure….even second guess what I know the Lord laid on my heart. In today’s world of ministry, we’d probably even see Isaiah as a failure. I mean, I look at Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Francis Chan, David Jeremiah, etc…..all very gifted Bible study teachers and preachers. People flock to hear them, and I am one of them. I see their appointed ministries as successful. Though, I doubt they started out that way….they did the hard thing first and then, “to them….more was given.”  I’m going to paraphrase what Matt said about this: “There are many cases in the Bible where people didn’t see the fruit of their ministry in their lifetime. God sees this thing differently, though. Numeric growth and enthusiasm are not always measurements of success. Faithfulness is success. Obedience is success. (STAYING POWER). God’s call to Isaiah introduces us as believers to a strange sense of freedom: A hearer’s response is not our responsibility. OUR responsibility is to be faithful to God and His message.” I love the picture he draws of the faithful in this next part: “I guarantee there’s some old dude, in some town most of us have never heard of, faithfully preaching to nine people every week and when we get to glory, we will be awed at his house!”  Those nine people, my friends, are His remnant. That sweet “old dude”, is a modern day Isaiah with some serious staying power. The response of others is not our responsibility, it’s between them and God. Could we just resolve to be FAITHFUL in our homes, our churches, and our communities?
"We would all do well to remember that God did not save us to become sensations, but rather, He saved us to become servants." ~  David Jeremiah
We have to be faithful to what we’re called to and not what we think it should be….even if our church gets down to 9 people, even if we become distanced from friends or family, even if we feel like we’re repeating the same thing over and over again and it’s going in one ear and out the other and we never see any fruit at all. God is at work in that!! I love that Mrs. Patsy Taylor told me our last Sunday night at church before our move, ”bloom where you’re planted!” She is a woman of few words so I listen when she speaks! She didn’t realize but that phrase had been on the tip of my tongue for a month before the move.  Even if we don’t like where we’re planted, we might as well bloom until He moves us. Too many of us want to sit on the sidelines and gripe about what all we could or should be doing instead of being faithful to what He’s already given us.
 That said, I have committed to the Lord to share whatever He lays on me with whoever I’m supposed to share it. Hence….this blog.  (Those messages were getting to be a bit much for a Facebook post!) But, I also pray I’ll never again let fear of rejection or anything else keep me from doing the hard thing, whether through a written word or face to face ministry. For example, some of my sweet friends have mentioned to me about writing a book. Honestly, He just hasn’t impressed upon me to do that or given me a message that would need a book (I know what you’re thinking….some of these posts could easily be a chapter!  Lol!) However, if the Lord were to really put something like that on my heart, I hope I would be disciplined enough to do it. Not because I want to be the next Beth Moore or because I want to be a best-selling author. But, because I am so thankful of how He allows me to experience Him, I want that for everyone I know! Even those I don’t know, and those I almost wish I didn’t know.  If all He ever wants me to do is occasionally share on a blog and repeat myself over and over to 3 fabulous children….I’m perfectly ok with that! Though, somedays…I need a shot of resolve for my own staying power. That sounds like a product, “resolve staying power”; do they sell that in a bottle?? How about you?  We all have a “thing”. Where are you serving faithfully today? Or where could you use a fresh dose of resolve?
Matthew 13:8-16
8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.” 10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” 11 He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ 16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.


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