The cartoon showed an elderly couple at church. They were standing in the aisle at church, peering down disapprovingly at a couple seated in front of them. The caption read, “The whole church watched with nervous anticipation as the visitors sat where the Martins have sat for 42 years.”
If this brings a smile to your face, my guess is that it is because you have made the mistake of sitting in someone’s seat , you know people who are like this, or perhaps you are even like this. After all, it is human nature to stake out our territory and defend it.
One of the most challenging things we creatures of habit can do is change one of our habits. This is true not only of where we sit, but also of how we think when we hear or study the word of God. Most adults get used to looking at the Scripture from the same seat. So we open our Bibles and not surprisingly, we find no surprises. But what if we changed our seat? What if we moved and sat somewhere else?
Try this at church and it opens up a whole new world. Sit in a section on the opposite side of the building and you’ll meet people who have been members there for years that you never knew. You’ll get to see a completely new set of babies as well and the backs of an entirely different group of heads. And, everything looks just a little different because you’re viewing it from a slightly different perspective.
Too often I’m afraid we go to God’s word like little children. Tell a class of children the lesson that morning is about the apostles, and half of them will raise their hands wanting to tell you everything they know about the apostles. What they know may not be much and it may have absolutely nothing to do with what the lesson is about, but they want you to know what they know. Rather than deeply listening for the voice of God, have you ever found yourself with your Bible open, rehearsing all you know about a particular passage to God? Now that’s not all bad, but that’s not the reason we open up our Bible either.
The thing about learning to listen deeply is that it helps us to live deeply.
After an unsuccessful carjacking attempt, the would-be-thief is about to be dropped off by his would-be-victim in the movie Crash. As the vehicle rolls to a stop, he is given back his gun. As he starts to get out, his would-be-victim makes him look him in the eye and tells him, “You embarrass me. You embarrass yourself.” Then he drives off. But his words sink into the young man who goes out and lives a better life.
The young man had the courage to look at himself from a different perspective. He changed his seat and it changed his life. May we have the courage to move out of our comfort zones and listen deeply to God.
“Speak for your servant is listening,” (1 Samuel 3:10).