The last three weeks of life have been a lot of frustration. Not with work or people or even the adoption process that has us heading next week to pick up our daughter. No my frustration has been solely sourced in my ear. The ear that will probably burst and flow forth blood and fluid as the pressure of a few international flights builds, but now remains unmotivated and filled with something that is bringing my hearing down and distracting the heck out of me.
A few weeks ago I had a nasty head cold and sore throat that developed into an ear infection. The membrane protecting the ear drum full of puss and fluid and blood, it was a rather painful experience with antibiotics have corrected (as least as far as infection is concerned – so I am told by the crack medical team that loves to take my money!) There have been sleepless nights, dizziness, and a lot of frustration that I am not back to normal.
Of course I have been letting God know what I think about it all. And I have been asking what he is teaching me – either about staying healthy or relying on him, probably both things. For some reason, I am meant to continue suffering, as long as I keep a needle away from my ear!
In this suffering, however mild it is, I have noticed that I have been listening different. In fact I have to move my head to hear just right, I have to pay close attention and I have to lean in to listen. This has given me some insight on how lazy of a listener I am when I am “healthy.” I tend to hear things before they are being said or listen past people and certainly God’s Word.
So maybe this isn’t so bad (trying to convince myself) and I will learn to be a better, more intentional listener through the process. One can only hope!
Here is to leaning in to listen to what God has for us, what those we love communicate and how we can serve our neighbors and those far off. Lord open our Spiritual ears to hear you and to hear each other…
Be like a child. Have wonder and expectation. Have dreams. Trust the King and live free. This is the call of Christianity, whether we remember it or not. This is what the kingdom of God is about, but we are usually too busy being grown up.
“And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:2-4 ESV)
I often wonder what has happened to our wonder – for those in Christ. We have clean and neat theology, our expression is appropriate for our context and few things moves us beyond our normative experience. We are meant to have mature thoughts (leaving childish things behind) and so we button up and end up looking stern and feeling even more so. But the adventure of following Christ is surely designed for more, childlike trust and wonder and running to Jesus!
Our family movie this week was The Little Prince, the Netflix version of a wonderful children’s book. It is a fun and surprisingly deep reflection on the seriousness with which we live and the success we strive for – often because that is what we think we are “supposed” to do. Without giving any spoilers, there is one phrase that struck me in the movie; “Growing up is not the problem, forgetting is.”
Ah, the truth. Forgetting the wonder of childhood, but for those in Christ, forgetting the glorious work of his cross and the humility we are freed to have before him, the childlike life of no burden and complete trust in the King that is kind and more than approachable.
I wonder still if we are poised for more childlike experience in Christ. To have the journey he has promised, with the prize being entry into the journey itself. That we are secure in him and set to dwell with him for eternity not in a merited subdivision of heaven but in the perfect created purpose of the new earth. Maybe we could laugh more. Maybe we could run to our King with more exuberance. Maybe we could wonder at the glory of Christ just for the magic of it all.
Let us turn and become like children. Let us remember what Christ has done and what he says about us. Let us dance for the fun of it!
“For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you — that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” (Romans 1:11–12 ESV)
There is no throw away in Paul’s introduction to the letter to the Roman church. Here we have a nugget of truth, in Paul’s expectation, that resonates in our community still today. The preaching of the gospel is the imparting of a spiritual gift that strengthens believers. He is eager to come to them to do ministry so he can join in on the mutual gospel encouragement.
This is what we in the church exist for — to proclaim the gospel to one another and to the world, that we would be strengthened by it. I don’t always see Christian community in this light, but I desire to do so just like Paul, and maybe you do to.
The power of God, the richness, fullness, and righteousness of God is conveyed and delivered in the gospel for all those who believe. This is why it is our well of refreshment and vitality that we go back to over and over again. It is our lives of purpose and resolve, this message of grace to those that could never earn it.
Today, seek out people you can encourage with the gospel. Seek out those that can encourage you in the same way and receive the spiritual gift that will strengthen you for all that will come your way.