I am convinced that all listening is not equal. I have, in fact, proven it. There are times in which my wife and I sit and talk, and I can tell you everything we talked about. I have a significant level of retention and understanding of the things she said in the conversation. There are also times when my wife and I are talking and something else is going on. It may be a ball game on television, or perhaps I am on the computer, or glancing through the mail while we are having our conversation. I say I am listening, and I think I am listening, but I often find out my listening was at a very different level than in the first example. I find this out when my wife asks me a question and I quickly discover I really don’t know what we are talking about, or I may not even realize she’s asked me a question. Or perhaps she will go back to something she told me in the conversation, an hour later, and I will have no recollection of what she is talking about. Whatever listening I may have been doing was on a very low, incomplete, and unsatisfactory level, even though I would have said I was listening.
Then there is a third level of listening. It would be the listening I would be engaged in if I say something was troubling my wife, and I asked her what the problem was because I knew it was something serious. Or it would be when the doctor comes out after the exploratory surgery and you ask, “What did you find?”
This is a deep and intense listening
which comes when you are determined, even desperate, to hear, discover,
or understand something that
matters a great deal.
It is the listening you do when you initiate the conversation or the subject and hearing the response is of great value or critical importance to you. It is a deep and intense listening.
I believe this listening is illustrated in Matthew 14. The disciples are in a boat between 3:00 and 6:00 am, and the wind and waves are rough. Jesus comes walking toward them, walking on the water! The disciples become afraid, believing Jesus to be a ghost - everyone knows people can’t walk on water. Jesus told them it was Him, and to not be afraid. That is when Peter spoke up and said if it was really Jesus, then “Bid me come to You.” Jesus said, “Come,” and Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water.
I think the miracle of Peter walking on the water is really cool, and it is awesome that Jesus walked on the water, came to the disciples, and Jesus told Peter to come when Peter asked. To me, however, the most remarkable part of the whole story is that Peter asked Jesus to ask him to come to where Jesus was. Jesus was in the midst of the rough sea. Jesus was outside the relative security of the boat. Jesus wasn’t with the group; He was out there by Himself.
He was in the place one would
not want to be.
And on top of that, Jesus was somewhere that it would take a miracle to get to. But Peter was able to hear Jesus say, “Come,” even to a place where nobody would want to go and where nobody could even get to, except by a miracle. And it isn’t just that he was able to hear Jesus calling him to such a place, but he wanted Jesus to call him there! He was listening for Jesus to call him there. He asked the question, as it were. Peter wanted to hear that call to come. He was listening for the voice of Jesus at the deepest possible level. He was listening deeply enough to hear a dangerous, difficult call. In fact, if the difficult, dangerous place was where Jesus was, Peter wanted to hear the call there.
That is not only pretty impressive, but it is also pretty instructive. This is the desire, the heart, the listening that brings miracles which enable people to walk on water.
It takes us to places where Jesus is,
that we can’t get to otherwise.
I wonder what would happen if we all would say, “Lord, bid me come,” and listen deeply to hear His call. At what level are you listening for the voice of God?