No headphones strapped to my noggin.
I had forgotten to pack the iPod for my daily constitutional (i.e., walk with my thieving hound dog), and my forgetfulness left me with loads of uninterrupted thought time.
The absentminded mistake proved fruitful (a reminder that makes me appreciate how God can use our missteps for His purposes and our good). I reflected on faith matters, God’s character, the creation-vs.-evolution debate, the blog, my soon-to-be-released novel, and basically anything that popped into my head.
Some thoughts were trash (but not trashy, at least not this time).
Some were treasures (and even a little treasure is worth the time).
Some threads I dropped.
Others I placed in the get-’er-done file.
In a recent reflection period, I took two promising lines of thought (my previous post and Acts 10) and wove them together. We authors have a tendency to do a lot of weaving when given the time (and we’re not playing computer games).
In Acts 10, we have two main characters, Cornelius the Centurion and Peter the Apostle. In order for the two to meet, which is something God has in mind, both have to have reflection time.
About Cornelius, we read, “…he…prayed to God regularly” (vs. 2) then “…he had a vision” (vs. 3). Quiet time equals listening time.
In the vision, an angel instructed Cornelius to send for Peter.
The angel said, “Send for Peter.” The centurion sent for Peter.
Cornelius heard. Cornelius acted.
Meanwhile back at the ranch (actually a first-century domicile predating both ranches and ranch-style homes), we find Peter upstairs, outside, on the roof. “Peter went up on the roof to pray” (vs. 9) (See, told you).
Downstairs, folks had fired up the barbecue pit and prepared brazed beef short-ribs and lamb-ka-bobs with roasted garlic, peppers, and onion. Cinnamon rolls were rising and would be popped into the oven soon. (Excuse me for a moment while I fire up the Weber. I just made myself hungry.)
Peter had a vision then the Spirit spoke to him. He told Peter three things: “Get up; go downstairs; go with the men waiting for you.” The apostle got up, went downstairs, and headed out with the men waiting for him.
Peter heard. Peter acted.
Paying homage to my Texas heritage and eschewing the fact I’m rhythmically challenged, I’d call this pattern The Heavenly Two-Step.
(You know I could go on like this for awhile but it gets old even for me.)
Hear. We all need a little time to upload or download or carry the load or take a load off or empty a load. I have no idea whether it’s download or upload or any other kind of load, and really it doesn’t matter. The actual point has nothing to do with loads at all. Hear has more to do with slowing down long enough to listen.
Many a wife can tell you a story about a lost husband driving around with no real idea where he’s going (Ellen has no such stories to tell but the talk on the street is that other wives do). If the guy’d stop long enough to ask for help, he could head in the right direction.
Hear, the first step, involves slowing down to listen and get direction. If you’re confused as to the next step, stop long enough to do the first step—hear.
Act. Studying, listening, thinking, evaluating, reflecting, and whatever else I can dream up (dreaming—there’s another one!), all these lead to the Nike call to action—“Just do it!” Otherwise, I might as well chill out by slipping into a vat of Jello (anything but green with pineapple slices—what a waste of pineapple).
You say, “That, Tom, is a ridiculous statement—ludicrous. Ludicrous! Preposterous! Laughable!”
Well, I’ll admit slipping into a vat of anything is a waste of time—which happens to be my point. Hearing without acting is the equivalent of outfitting your kitchen with top-of-the-line pots and pans, stocking your pantry with fresh-from-the market produce, reading about a divine culinary experience, then pulling out a plastic knife and the Wonder Bread to make a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich.
No offense to Wonder Bread, peanut butter, or jelly, but let’s apply what we learn; act on what we hear.
Question: What prevents you from hearing in the first place or acting on what you’ve already heard?