A Listening Heart
I want to share with you excerpts from a Bible lesson that my grandmother, Margaret Tadlock Kann, gave circa 1963, which speaks to me today. I LOVE that I can read her thoughts on God's Word and His truth! My prayer is that it will bless you as well. You may find this lesson along with 105 of her others in the book Timeless Truths of the Christian Life:
Hidden away in a little entrance hall at my home is a family heirloom, a chiming clock. It was a wedding present to my husband's mother and father and came into our possession when the Kann family home was broken up by death.
It chimes softly every quarter hour, one stroke at the fifteen minute mark, two strokes at the half hour, three strokes at 45 minutes, and finally on the hour. When it first came into our house, I thought that I should be annoyed by the clock's seemingly constant reminders. The strange thing, however, is that now I scarcely hear it at all. Perhaps once a month or once in six weeks I notice its' tuneful resonant tones and marvel that I no longer have a listening ear turned to its' music.
The beauty is there, regular and sweet, but I no more hear it than if it did not exist. This sort of assent to deafness shuts God out of many lives.
In I Kings 3:9, young Solomon prayed as he contemplated the heavy responsibilities of taking over the throne of Israel, "So give Your servant an understanding mind and a hearing heart (with which) to judge Your people, so that I may discern between good and evil." If King David had defined what he meant when he counseled Solomon, he could have done no better than to suggest this prayer.
Not only did God bless this attitude in Solomon's day, but today the master key to Christian living is a listening heart. I first learned this secret when as a young college graduate, I puzzled over the will of God for my life.
Preperations had been completed for public school teaching, but youth could not see the vast opportunity there for Christ and whether it was the best choice for the years that were ahead. Consequently, on the grounds at a summer youth conference, I searched out Dr. George Guille who was the camp's visiting Bible teacher, thinking that he would surely tell me what a surrendered young person should do with her life.
We walked leisurely along a quiet path, and my excited heart beat double time in expectation. At length the man of God spoke tenderly, "I cannot tell you," he said, "what God wants you to do; but I am sure that He can speak loudly enough for a listening heart to hear."
The listening heart hears a thousand whispered endearments and countless undertones of direction and instruction that are altogether imperceptible to others.
The listening heart finds a place in each busy day for reading the Bible, and reads the Book like a personal letter rather than a history text.
The listening heart turns heavenward each morning with its first moment of consciousness. Dr. Donald Gray Barnhouse once said that his first inclination on greeting a lovely sunrise was to sing the popular ballad "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" from the musical Oklahoma, The habit pleased him, for he had determined to greet each day with the hymn:
"When morning guilds the sky,
My heart awakening cries -
'May Jesus Christ be praised.'"
The words of a song are immaterial, for a hymn can be sung with unconscious rhythm while the heart signs and complains. Words of a popular song, on the other hand, may genuinely praise the Lord if they express joy and happiness in Him.
No day can be all sadness for the listening heart that has tuned in the Savior's voice, saying, "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).
Delightful surprises pop up in the most unexpected places for the listening heart. For example, last week I found it necessary to write a letter to one very dear to me who had learned that she could only live for a very short time, perhaps a few days.
I picked up my pen and expected to write something like King David's words, "I am about to go the way of all the earth," but that attitude was in no way compatible with my mood or my true thinking on the subject. At first I thought that I must adjust my mood to thoughts of death to match the situation, but instead of that I began to scribble down the honest thoughts that were mine. I sought to have a listening heart and to be unafraid to express what I heard. The letter read:
So you are nearing the greatest day of your lifer and are so close that you are beginning to prepare for it. No summer vacation dreams could possibly be as exciting and as filled with expectation as your plans to step into life on a new plane, in a new dimension, and in the presence of the Lord. Congratulations; happy take off! We shall all be joining you before long. Say 'hello' to your mother and father and say for me, 'I love You' to our blessed Lord."
Lord, please give each of us eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to understand Your truth, Your voice, and Your ways! Amen.