myMISSION Blog

The Blessing of Listening

When was the last time you really felt heard? When have you really felt like you heard someone else’s heart?

This month, we have been thinking a lot about how to grow relationships. One way that is harder than it sounds is by learning to listen.

The gift of listening is more than just keeping our mouths shut. To listen, really listen, we need to engage with our minds and hearts. We need to enter into someone else’s reality to the point that we can sense what God is doing in their lives. It is rarely what we think about on the surface. Something is always deeper. Our God’s love is deep and wide. It removes our sin as far as the east is from the west. Truly only He knows the plans He has for us. Only He can walk us through the valleys. Our relationships with others recognize His work in their lives and we must listen well to even begin to see His ways. He often surprises us in the journey.

If I Will, You Will

One minute I had my perfect post-college plans set, and the next I was convinced they would never come to fruition.

The plan (or so I had hoped) was to move overseas in 2015, a few months after graduation. I saw no need to look for a full-time job or move back in with my parents, because I was going to start my life as a cross-cultural worker when I wanted.

It quickly became apparent that my timeline and God’s timeline weren’t matching up, despite my best attempts to get my way. I went to my university pastor for advice, and he told me to pray and listen to what God was telling me about it.

I prayed and very clearly God told me, “If the Lord wills, you will do this, but wait.”

While that wasn’t the answer I wanted, I listened, and it paid off. I’m only a few months into my term, but I can see that if I hadn’t waited and listened, delaying my plans by a year, so much would be different.

Even as I try to stay focused on my work in South Asia, I find myself wondering about what’s next, and He continues to remind me, “If the Lord wills.”

London, Listening, and Counter-Cultural Living

If we are going to make changes in our culture, we have to live counter-culturally. A mentor of mine often repeats these simple, wise words. Opportunities to live in a way that challenges our culture are easy to find in college. By choosing to make godly decisions in the midst of the temptations and challenges students face almost daily, counter-cultural and cultural living can seem as starkly different as black and white.

Then, suddenly, something happens that rips you away from your comfortable student bubble. You could graduate, transfer colleges, or even simply realize that you don’t know your university as well as you thought you did. If you’re like me, you can study abroad for a semester in London and realize just how little you really understand about other cultures. I no longer have the luxury of simply living against the status quo. I first have to identify differences between England and my home that do not reflect God and then live against the flow. In new places, though, not getting caught up in the flow is hard to do.

Make an Impact for the Kingdom

As a young professional, you’re probably working hard to make ends meet. (Maybe your ends meet just fine, but that hasn’t always been the case for me.) When you work hard to earn every penny, it probably means your two most valuable resources are time and money. You have to spend 40-ish hours a week at work, so the time you have left you want to spend relaxing, hanging out with friends and family, or participating in your favorite hobbies. These can all be good, God-glorifying things. Why the pressure to invest your precious moments in other people? Because people matter to God.

Three Ways We Invest Our Time as a Family

We moved from a South Asian city back to an American city. In South Asia, relationships trump tasks. You may begin to leave your house to run errands, but if a neighbor shows up, you stay and serve them chai. Relationships come before tasks.

Moving back to the United States made me question how I would spend my time. Add in being a new momma (and, for the first time, a stay-at-home mom), being a pastor’s wife, and living in a new town; I had many avenues where I could invest my time.

Love God. Love my family. Love my neighbor.

These three things have become themes in our family. Here are some ways we choose to invest our time as a family each day:

World Water Day: Pure Water, Pure Love

How many times have you used water today? Did you stop and wonder if the water was clean? Most likely you use water more times in a day than you realize and you are blessed with not having to wonder whether the water you are drinking is safe and clean. However, this is not the case in many places around the world. Did you know that more than 663 million people lack access to clean water? The need for clean water access is great as the lack of clean water leads to numerous water-related diseases. Consider the following:

Gifts of Hope Ministry Set

Gifts of Hope Ministry Set

Stuart Davidson, pastor of Eastern Shore Baptist Church, says this about these meaningful devotional books, “The ‘Gifts of Hope’ series answers the call to cast our burdens at the feet of Jesus and encourages the reader to cling to the One who provides peace everlasting—Jesus Christ.”

We are looking for groups to offer a special ministry project within your community. This idea works especially well for small groups such as Adult Sunday School classes and missions or discipleship study groups. For $125, you receive a Gifts of Hope Ministry Set to put in a high traffic area within your community such as a waiting room for a doctor, dentist, chiropractor, diagnostic testing center, lawyer office, food pantry, clothes closet, even an auto repair service shop or tire store. The possibilities are endless. If you have 13 people in your small group, everyone contributes about $10.00. So, please purchase a Gifts of Hope Ministry Set and get started today.

Time Well Spent

Investing time in a relationship is messy. It means letting go of your best-laid plans in exchange for someone else. It means sacrificing your time for the sake of another.

But, what if that sacrifice means the other person had a better idea of who Jesus is because of spending time with you?

As believers, that’s the opportunity we have. Whether you find yourself in the suburbs, a college dorm, or like me, across the ocean in a new country, we’re called to invest time in those God has placed around us for the gospel.

Investing time means putting all we have into a relationship with a friend, family member, or co-worker. So if that person hasn’t heard of the grace Jesus offers, they will know it as a result of being around us.

What does that look like? Well, thankfully, God hasn’t left us without an example.

In Luke 19:1­–10, we see Jesus invest time in Zacchaeus. Here Jesus was, just passing through Jericho when, in verse five, Jesus tells the tax collector, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19:5 NIV).

Seek with All Your Heart

We have been thinking a lot about time this month—managing time and investing time in relationships. Ecclesiastes 3 says that there is a time for everything. Sometimes I wonder: Really? Is there really time for everything we need to do and everything God wants us to do? I don’t know about you, but for me it is a huge challenge!

OK, but if it comes from God’s Word, then we know it’s true, right? But how? Psalm 139:16 says God has our days planned. Ephesians 2:10 says that there are works prepared in advance for us to do. In Jeremiah 29:11–13 (NIV), God says, “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” He continues to say that with these plans in place, “then you will call on me and come and pray to me. . . . You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Beautiful.

Maybe the amazing fact that God knows us and that He has plans for our days and our time are what can bring us to know Him more—not simply to know His plans but to know Him. Maybe we can learn how to seek not only answers for our questions but also Him.

Obedience over Familiarity

As I write this, it is Christmas Eve. I’m sitting in my room listening to Christmas music and have just finished wrapping my last presents. This sounds quite normal, right? It is…almost.

Four years ago, I left my home and all things familiar and moved literally halfway around the world to live in a place I had never been before. I spent two years living and working in a somewhat difficult place to live for the sake of the gospel.

More recently, I have done this on a more permanent basis, for I am here to stay for the foreseeable future, Lord willing. It’s a new place and almost just as different from my previous country as it is from my home country. But this is where the Lord has sent me, and I want to be obedient. So here I am.

Many others have gone before me and have had to endure much harder circumstances than me. And, Lord willing, many others will continue to leave their homes, families, and all things familiar for the sake of Christ our Savior, the One Who left heaven—the best of everything—for our sakes.

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