Learning to Listen is Learning to Love

“Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one.”
Deuteronomy 6:4

Are you listening? Are you really listening?  Listening to someone is a choice. How often has your attention drifted off while someone was speaking to you? You hear the person saying something, but you haven’t really been paying attention to the words being spoken. Oops! You have just let that person know that he or she is not a priority to you. Your to-do list, or an incoming text message or something else has taken precedence.  You have unconsciously chosen not to listen. When a spouse or child or friend asks us to listen, he or she is really saying love me enough to really hear me – to put me first. Our earthly and heavenly relationships depend on our willingness to show our love through attentive listening.  It seems our ears are connected to our hearts.

The three passages in Deuteronomy and Numbers known as the Shema have always served as a reminder to the Jewish people of their commitment to God, and these opening words from Deuteronomy would certainly have been central to Jesus’ prayer life. He would have learned the Shema as a boy so it’s not surprising that he quoted from it during his ministry on earth – “Hear O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one.”  The Message says it like this: Listen Israel; The LORD your God is one; so love the LORD God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.”  (Mark 12:29).  Jesus then goes on to speak also about loving each other, so he seems to be linking listening directly with loving. If you love God, you will listen to God. In fact, the Hebrew word Shema is the command to hear, to be attentive and to respond with loving action. Listening to God and to each other is essential, holy work. Author Kay Lindahl says that “Listening is a creative force that transforms relationships…Listening is being fully present – to Spirit, to self, to others. If you love God, you will listen to God. And when you listen, God will speak wisdom in your life.”  Listening is a sacred act.

Prayer:  God of love, change me into someone who listens with my ears and my heart because to listen is to love. Make me humble to listen to the advice others give as that is the way of wisdom. Keep me grounded in your Word so I will be open to and aware of your nudges. AMEN.

Francie Winslow