Here is my column for Sunday:
The couple is sitting across the table from each other at a restaurant. They may as well be a million miles apart. Being in close physical proximity doesn’t mean emotional closeness no more than sleeping in a garage makes you a car. They are busy. He is thinking about the day he had at work. He left office building, but for all intents and purposes, he is still there. She is looking around the restaurant. First at the fajitas when they are delivered to a neighboring table. Then she looks at a couple leaving together. As their food is delivered, he checks his email once more. She is sharing text messages with a friend.
They are in a relationship, but not on the best of terms. She decides to talk about some of the conflict. He doesn’t want to deal with this and gets defensive shortly after she starts talking. Their conversation is going nowhere fast. Both of them are more interested in winning, being right, whatever you want to call it. They talk. They are easily distracted.
The problem is that neither of them is listening to each other. They are not communicating. They are each seeking to be heard, but not to hear. To be understood, but not to understand. To be right and not to be loved or loving.
We’ve all seen these people before. We have probably even been one of these persons before, at least to some extent.
As we think about our relationship with God, it is helpful to look at these two people. Their relationship is struggling because they aren’t listening and they aren’t loving. To have a growing, flourishing relationship with God, the Bible talks about listening and loving:
Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water's edge. He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: "Listen!” (Mark 4:1-3a)
Jesus invites us to the water’s edge to listen to Him.
God also invites us to love:
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
Patience, humility, being open to God’s leading, justice, perseverance, hope, and endurance—these are the attributes that will help us in our relationships with other people and also the attributes that will help us in our relationship with God.
God wants us to listen to Him. I pray we respond with our ears, our eyes, our minds, and our hearts. God has created us to love Him.