Listening to the Stories

There is a point and reason for discouragement and setbacks. These parts of our stories are leading us some place good. If we are willing to open our eyes and ears, to follow and to learn, they will lead us some place good.  I had that thought come into my mind after dropping my son off at school this morning.

I have to believe this. This is the truth I cling to in my life.

It’s the truth that the God of the universe, the lover of my soul, is a good good God. That His invisible hand is always on the move… positioning us where we need to be.  And that positioning is designed for one purpose: to move us closer to HIM.

I believe this with all my heart. Now, Lord, help me to live, really live, like I believe it.  

As I was thinking about all this, the following passage from Matthew came to mind.

“The disciples came up and asked, “Why do you tell stories?”

 He replied, “You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom. You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight; it hasn’t been given to them. Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight. In their present state they can stare till doomsday and not see it, listen till they’re blue in the face and not get it. I don’t want Isaiah’s forecast repeated all over again:

Your ears are open but you don’t hear a thing.
    Your eyes are awake but you don’t see a thing.
The people are blockheads!
They stick their fingers in their ears
    so they won’t have to listen;
They screw their eyes shut
    so they won’t have to look,
    so they won’t have to deal with me face-to-face
    and let me heal them.

“But you have God-blessed eyes—eyes that see! And God-blessed ears—ears that hear! A lot of people, prophets and humble believers among them, would have given anything to see what you are seeing, to hear what you are hearing, but never had the chance.”  Matthew 13:10-17 Message

These are the verses that stood out to me this morning.

“Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight”

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“Prayer is the only entryway into genuine self-knowledge. It is also the main way we experience deep change—the reordering of our loves.” ~ Tim Keller

I’ve been pondering this quote for the last couple of days.

I love how Keller replaces the familiar saying “reordering of our lives” with loves instead.  It’s a powerful statement.

Our affections (loves) dictate/guide our actions and our actions form and make up our stories (lives). If our loves are out of order then our lives will eventually follow too.

As I thought more about Keller’s statement, the following verses from Psalm 73 came to mind.

When I tried to understand all this,
it seemed hopeless
 until I entered God’s sanctuary.
Then I understood their destiny.

When I became embittered
and my innermost being  was wounded,
 I was stupid and didn’t understand;
I was an unthinking animal toward You.
Yet I am always with You;
You hold my right hand.
 You guide me with Your counsel,
and afterward You will take me up in glory.
 Who do I have in heaven but You?
And I desire nothing on earth but You.
 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart,
my portion forever.
 Those far from You will certainly perish;
You destroy all who are unfaithful to You.
 But as for me, God’s presence is my good.
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
so I can tell about all You do.

– Psalm 73: 16-7 21-28

Prayer is the only entryway into genuine self-knowledge.

Take the words from the Psalmist, he spends time recognizing and acknowledging the flaws in his character, behavior and thinking. Yet when he choses to stand in the presence of God he begins to understand. His affections changed, his priorities shifted. Once the psalmist took time to recognize his need, His mind and heart became focused on the truth of who he was in relationship with the Lord

He recognizes the benefits of staying connected with the life giver.

He recognizes that apart from the life giver he is completely lost.

He recognizes that our “living essentials” (heart and flesh) may fail but his God would never fail him. 

He recognizes this connection he has with the Lord is for his good.

He recognizes that this connection isn’t just for his good but is also equipping him to pass on and share with others the greatness of God.

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Prayer helps to create readiness…entering God’s presence helps to create readiness. It’s through prayer when the master story teller quiets our hearts enough so that we can hear the story being told and the story being written all around us.

Help us to hear your stories today, Lord.  Create readiness in us.  Nudge us closer to You today.

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