Many of us might not feel we are great listeners. Very often, we use words, and noise to crowd out the silent space where we can actually listen. This is true even of prayer. Worse is when we are programmed to only thinking of prayer as talking to God, more than with him. Because when we are talking with God, there is the listening dimension.
The various spiritual practices that has helped me along this path of listening is (1) Silence (2) Lectio Divina – slow reflective spiritual reading (3) Contemplative retreats (where it’s not noisy and packed) (3) Spiritual Journaling …. (4) Spiritual companionship with trusted friends.
I know we don’t get very hyped up about spiritual practices like this as compared to leadership seminars, or the latest concert, or trend or whatever. But me, these practices keep me sane, because they remind me to listen… not just to myself, my surroundings but most importantly .. God. Once we hear from God, then we are secure.
* * *
It’s been a while since I have such a tasty piece of Chicken pie. I don’t really have a lot of demands when it comes to food. Potatoes, Chinese Dumplings, Chicken Pie, Fish and Chips, Hokkian Noodles – Meehoon Mee, etc will satisfy me 🙂 In many ways, I have never been in a situation where I have to worry about the next meal on the table. In fact, like most people in my circle we are spoilt for choice aren’t we?
In a recent funeral service for their late 80plus year old mother, the eldest son shared about in his eulogy on how he was in charge of cutting the loaf of bread for 10 people in the family. This was during the 50s-60s in pre-merdeka Malaysia. Listening to his story, my mind wondered off and recollected bits and pieces I overheard when I was young on how poor my Dad’s family was and they were eating porridge with salt or soya sauce.
It’s hard for many of us to really comprehend this these days. Maybe some of us can, and we know what it means depend on others or God for the next meal. Especially when our lives are defined more by our "wants" than our "needs". Even so, the beauty about being someone created in God’s image, is that we can step back, and even step out of our comfort zones to reexamine ourselves, and to re-orientate how values (especially when it’s off track). We can even learn to be in solidarity and identify with those who are struggling to put food on the table for their daily needs. And when we begin to make those changes within us, we begin to create space to acknowledge the supreme one who breaths life into us and keeps us alive, and provides for us often without us even realizing it.
The next time you have some food on your table. Pause for a genuine moment of "grace" and thank the Father in heaven for providing the meal, the taste buds to enjoy the meal, the internal organs that process the meal, the hands that prepared the food, the whole environment allowed the original produce to grow and so on. Of course, we know in our world there are many who don’t have enough bread or rice to go around, natural disasters affect their wellbeing, agricultural abuse and crisis affects their produce, and the list goes on. Then in addition to the pause for thanks, we also pause to intercede for those in need .. in dire need. And perhaps, we might hear a voice calling us to set aside some funds or time to intervene so we can have more people praying with us and worshiping the one who gives us our daily bread.
* * *
I deeply resonate and echo the call to .. "compare our assumptions with other perspectives are we able to see the need for re-examination and re-formation if we are to fulfill the design of God." We are able to do that with other Christians especially when our confidence in Christ is not trapped in any false security in our own opinions (or lack of). With a lively and living confidence in Christ at the center, and now combined with the appreciation of how other Christ-followers bring their uniqueness to the table of our spiritual growth, ongoing maturity in thinking, and on the ground ministry and service, together we find ourselves enriched by each other, and redirected to a more fulfilling approach to witnessing to God’s ultimate design invading us from the future.
* * *
These harmonics vibrated from May 26 – May 28, 2008