[re-truh greyd] (ret·ro·grad·ed, ret·ro·grad·ing.)
[re-truh greyd] (ret·ro·grad·ed, ret·ro·grad·ing.)
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
John 10:27, NLT
Do you hear him? He is always speaking to his own; with many things, some pertaining to guidance, and other issues. He delights in teaching us– through words of wisdom that encourage us to follow, or how to really love your neighbor.
He desires to point out things as we encounter them; your curiosity in the natural is meant to be spiritual as well. His soul is that of a teaching shepherd, and he delights in his ministry to us. And we need his instruction.
Regular time with him can not be separated from our daily routine. I have learned that he accommodates himself to us, the ‘grist’ of life is his blackboard. The events that I encounter are his ‘lessons.’ As I move through my life I ‘hear’ his voice. I begin to sense the need of those who I encounter.
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
I have learned the joy of praying in the moment with 10 second prayers. Praying continually as I see the needs. I pray for the man who bags my groceries; and lift up the young mother pushing a stroller. I believe his voice prompts me to lift each need I encounter. When the Bible tells us to ‘pray continually’ this is what Paul has in mind.
He ‘tunes me’ to see people from his viewpoint. He shows me of their struggles, hopes, and aspirations. I try to never judge what I’m shown; actually the opposite is true– I’m learning to love like he loves. I’m seeing what he sees.
I’m a work in progress. Very often my cares, sins, and disobedience nullify the voice of Jesus, Sometimes my personal issues hijack me and I swirl down into depression or paranoia. I am intensely flawed, but the Holy Spirit is gracious. He always meets me where I am. Slowly, I’m learning to hear his voice.
“By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, 29 but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them.”
Luke 24:29, NLT
I’m continuing to think about these guys on the road to Emmaus. There is an intense desire of theirs to bring Jesus in to them and off the streets. They only have a partial understanding of Jesus, but they do have sense enough to invite Him into a comfortable place. This was really out of the ordinary. Afterall, He was just an agreeable traveller.
But the sentiment was strong. They went really out of the way, and they began to insist. And He finally consented. There are times when we feel strong about a thing, and we find we are doing things out of the ordinary.
These two men discerned much. They understood that night was coming. They also understood Jesus’ need for food and shelter. The day was dwindling down. He could not continue on His own. So they made room, and they opened up their lives to Him. And never has there been such a guest. Oh, but what blessed friendship He brings us. We thrive and grow under His rays. He brings us much more then we could ever give Him.
“As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. 31 Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!”
Jesus finally ‘undresses Himself’ . He reveals who He really is, and these men rock back in their chairs. Scripture says ‘that their eyes were opened’. That took a supernatural work. It is at this moment that Jesus disappeared. He was gone, He just vanished from them.
“They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?”
They were left with memories of a ‘burning heart’. Jesus Christ had left a deep imprint, and these two men would always ‘nurse’ these memories of a long dusty walk with the resurrected Jesus. They would, from on then, think about these fleeting moments, when they were so close, and yet missed Him who decided to take a walk with them in the bright Judean sunlight.
It is imperative that we remember our times with Jesus. When He reveals Himself to us, we will never be the same.
These are rough notes I just compiled. They seem to be the different ways God guides the broken believer into His purposes and into His Will. I simply hope you’ll be able to extrapolate off them to find a personal direction. These have worked for me for over 30 years of following the Lord Jesus Christ.
“I will lead the blind by a way they do not know,
In paths they do not know I will guide them.
I will make darkness into light before them
And rugged places into plains.
These are the things I will do,
And I will not leave them undone.”
Isaiah 42:16, NASB
I want to lay out some practical ideas for those who desire to hear God. The following are principles to be considered.
In discerning the will of God, you should line up as many as possible— not just one, but several. He sees your eager heart, and He will make things clear. Remember, you must proceed in faith, (Hebrews 11:1, 6), “for we walk by faith, not by sight,” 2 Cor. 5:7.
Any deficiencies or short-comings of this list are exclusively my own. I’m certain you can make your own list and a better version. Feel free to distribute or use as you see fit. “Eat the meat, and spit out the bones.” Remember this verse: “It is God’s privilege to conceal things, and the king’s privilege to discover them.” Proverbs 25:2, NLT.
Amazement was typically the response Jesus had on the people who crossed His path. They had apparently evaluated Him, and His words, His wonders and still could not figure Him out. They knew of His youth, saw Him and knew Him to be the son of a local carpenter. There was certainly nothing there to consider or suggest anything more. It was like being the son of the neighborhood mechanic.
He quickly pursues an effort to teach the Word of God, and that becomes Jesus’ platform to announce the Kingdom. It is a small beginning, but suddenly the supernatural shows up. People are getting healed. Amazement obviously follows. Questions get asked, and amazement starts to turn to worship for some. And others, well there is almost always a point were they arrive at in their thinking, but sadly they can advance no further. They will even ask those critical questions; where did this come from? What is causing these miracles to happen, and why is His teaching which is so profound?
Today, we are still trying to figure Him out. So few of us reach through far enough to touch Him. There is a revelation that must happen before we can really see and understand. It is one thing to be amazed, and quite the other to be transformed.
Please do not misjudge Jesus. Do not evaluate Him and pass your verdict on Him, making quick and irrevocable decisions that haven’t really been thought through. Keep asking yourself, “Who is Jesus?” And then listen very closely to the truth that awaits you.
There is a tremendous need to listen to those suffering with mental illness.
Listening takes patience.
I believe it is a rule written somewhere, that self-centered people are simply not prepared to reach hurting people. You might say they don’t have the capability to become a good listener. One thing is certain, listening will change you. The more you do it, the better (and wiser) person you will become.
Listening to the disturbed takes work. You can become that catalyst for healing and wholeness. But you have to set aside your own agenda to do this.
Typically the mentally ill are intense communicators. Sometimes they can be delusional and seem incoherent. But your patience will pay off. Trust the Holy Spirit to strengthen you.
“Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.”
1. listens with spiritual ears open, hearing and understanding the spirit beneath the words;
2. listens with the heart and mind still and th e mouth shut;
3. listens with no personal agenda;
4. listens with compassionate spiritual eyes, maintaining involved eye contact;
5. listens with a compassionate heart;
6. listens with a committed heart;
7. listens with attentiveness;
8. listens without judgment;
9. listens without fear;
10. listens with faith, knowing that the Spirit of God is at work to will and do according to His good purpose;
11. waits patiently, quietly and prayerfully through times of silence, making room for the unfolding of things previously too deep and too painful to even know or express;
12. counts it a privilege to witness a soul in the process of transformation, even when it doesn’t look like it;
13. offers to explore options wisely;
14. offers to pray when the time of tears and sharing ends;
15. consoles with words of comfort and confidence in the faithfulness of God, which is usually all anyone needs to hear;
16. waits to give advice until asked;
17. offers a hug;
18. recognizes that these are holy moments of eternal consequence;
19. keeps all holy moments completely confidential.
20. doesn’t try to take the place of the Holy Spirit.
“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.”
I have no clue where this list came from. But it is quite good and very thorough. I exhort you to really listen close to those with a disability. Forget about WWJD. Try HWJL.
(How Would Jesus Listen?)
“One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.”
Psalm 27:4, (NIV)
One thing: Not two or three. One. Something extraordinary. Not something noble or even praise-worthy things, however exceptional. But just a singular sight of Him, in His house and in His beauty. In other words,
“I’m asking God for one thing,
only one thing:
To live with him in his house
my whole life long.
I’ll contemplate his beauty;
I’ll study at his feet.”
Psalm 27: 4, (The Message)
There can be a multitude of options for us– and many of them are good and true. We are very adept at finding other alternatives; the enemy will even suggest things to usurp the believer’s gaze.
I once knew a small congregation in Pacifica, California. They were tremendously gifted at combining worship with evangelism. We would get permits to close a street in San Francisco, and they would bring us a deep anointing. They were remarkable. We all looked forward to their ministry.
But something happened. That church is no more. They got involved in activism, and over time they focused on politics and soon became disenchanted with pure worship. I was told that their church services became saturated with many other things. They stopped looking at Jesus, and turned their gaze on other things. I have no idea where they are at today. This seems to be the ‘price of distraction.’
To gaze is defined as, “a steady or intent look. Often with great curiosity, interest, pleasure or wonder.” It combines the sensory of sight with a thoughtful contemplation. Often we see, but do not understand. A combination of the physical and the mental is necessary. But we also must ‘see’ the spiritual side as well.
I suggest that we set our gaze on our God. After all, this is where we will spend eternity. And more so, He is and will be spiritually ‘intriguing’ and a source of endless joy for the believer. God alone is worthy of our gaze. Let’s not be satisfied with mere trifles.
“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”
Jesus alone must satisfy. To keep him always ‘front and center’ must be our total focus. Plans and methods and mechanisms can’t save you from your sin. Only Jesus can do this. To God alone belongs salvation. (Ps. 72:18).