Listening to the Word

But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does. – James 1:25

I have to admit - one of the biggest struggles I have as a follower of Jesus (particularly since I grew up in a Christian family, went to church and a Christian school from K-12 and then Bible college) is just how familiar it all seems at time. In the midst of being a husband and father of 2 young kids, “spending time in the Word” often (to my shame) brings a shrug my shoulders as I think, “I’ve heard this all a thousand times before.”

Of course, I haven’t heard it all before, because walking with Jesus is so much more than simply practicing religion. I have a dynamic relationship with a living Savior! The more I think of Jesus in terms of religious practice and “doing things,” the more discouraged and apathetic I become. On the flip side, the more I focus on having a relationship with Jesus, my desire to spend time with him increases as well. This is where my experience with chronic pain has most negatively impacted my faith; as my suffering continued and there seemed to be no hope for healing or relief, I slipped into thinking that Christianity didn’t “work” - as if faith in Christ were simply a magic formula to a comfortable, easy life! Oh, the lessons of life are so hard to learn sometimes - but so worth it!

In his devotional “Listening to the Word,” Leroy Eims of the Navigators shares how easy it is to tune out what seems so familiar - kind of like the safety presentation on an airplane. The next time you fly on an airplane, just take a look around when the flight attendants go through the pre-flight demonstration - most people are doing anything but listening. They’ve heard it all before right? Eims then shares about a flight he once took in Bogata on a plane from the 1930’s that didn’t have an automatic oxygen system - on this flight he personally asked the flight attendant to show him how the system worked so he knew exactly how to use it; his life depended on it!

So too our lives depend on Jesus; are we paying attention, or zoning out? Eims offers this encouragement:

Ask God to give you the spirit of our early ancestors in the faith, who devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching. Ask the Lord to give you the same hunger God’s people exemplified when they gathered together to hear the Word of God expounded and hung on to every word. Be one of those who truly hears the Word.

I’m flying with my wife and kids to Las Vegas in a few weeks; I know my first instinct will be to ignore the safety presentation and read a book - but I know from my favorite show “Air Disasters” in an emergency it may cost my own life and the lives of my wife and kids. So it is with Jesus - we need to be men and women who truly hear the Word!