Listening When Listening Matters

Listening When Listening Matters

The world is changing by the day and we as a people will change with it. Many of us hope to return to normal in a few months, or maybe by the end of the summer. But after COVID-19 has passed we will be entering a new normal. Our past often frames our future—sometimes physically, sometimes mentally or sometimes spiritually. We ask questions of ourselves about our beliefs, commitments and values when we see them challenged in the midst of trials.

During this period of isolation we should be listening to each other, and maybe it is a time to listen to God? Years ago, I heard a pastor’s wife make this statement: “God speaks to those who take time to listen.” Jesus said at the end of one of his parables: “consider carefully how you listen.” In Luke 8:1-18 he shares the parable of the sower and the seed. He ends it with the phrase about listening, then states an eternal truth: “whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.”

Jesus’ parable is all about the seed as the Word of God. The parable suggests many hear the word but not all benefit. In the hearing some do not hear or are distracted by listening to the things they deem most important. Jesus gives examples of distractions, which includes trials that test us—finances, cares of life or worries—and those things that give us pleasure. Most of the things that we have valued in our society: our jobs or careers, sports, finances, restaurants, parties or fellowship, are inaccessible because of the shelter-in-place directive. The one thing that remains is the word made alive in our hearts.

The wisdom of Solomon encourages us to: “guard your heart because out of it flows the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23). Jesus ends this parable stating that those with a good and honest heart will bring forth fruit 30, 60 and 100-fold. Those who listen, trust and obey produce the life of Jesus in the mist of trouble and darkness, dryness and loneliness, need and anxiety. His fruit in them is love, joy, peace, endurance, gentleness and kindness.

We continue our preparation for the days to come as we meet for business and prayer virtually. Our principal concern is the safety of our students, staff and faculty; all who continue to work and communicate online. With grace and patience, we are all adapting to new ways of learning. Let us pray that we will also adapt to new ways of listening.

These are the days when communities of faith like Fresno Pacific University take time to listen to one another, those around us and, in our isolation, the Spirit of the Living God. In this crisis we will hear many voices in different places. Let’s make sure we take time to listen to the voice that matters—the Word of the Lord. Maybe we will hear him say again—Trust in the Lord with all your heart!


Joseph Jones, Ph.D.