Posted by: glorifyhim1 | August 11, 2013

To Listen and Follow

To Listen and Follow

The other morning my husband and I were sitting on the back deck enjoying a morning break with our son’s faithful dog lying on the floor between our chairs. Some of you probably remember having heard about Snickers before. She is a sweet, docile husky/retriever mix, a loyal companion, who likes to run the fence line, bark at cats, and eat beggin’ strips at break time.

On this particular morning, having already enjoyed her beggin’ strip, she lay listlessly looking out over her backyard kingdom. All at once she jerked her head to attention. Her ears were perked and listening, her nose wiggled, and her eyes were fixed on the side of yard near the garden. My husband and I both followed her gaze, trying to determine what she saw or heard, but we were clueless. Then, she bounded off the deck, but not at a hard run. She stretched out her long legs and carefully and quietly placed one after the other as she “tiptoed” across the yard.

My husband and I watched in amazement, trying to figure out what she was up to. Suddenly, she stopped, peering at an empty spot on the ground. She cocked her head sideways, listening intently. Then, she pounced, burrowing her nose into the soft, wet dirt. To my horror and my husband’s delight, she emerged with a mole who had met its ultimate fate in one swift encounter.

I guess you could say that my break was over. I dashed inside so as not to witness anything more. In spite of the horror I felt, however, I couldn’t help but be amazed at how Snickers listened and acted on what she heard. Neither my husband nor I had heard a sound. There were no visual clues to see or follow. Yet Snickers heard and instinctively reacted.

I couldn’t help but be reminded of Jesus’ words: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). What if I listened to Jesus, to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, with such attentiveness and concentration? What if I were so in step with my Father that I instinctively knew His voice and was ready to respond? What if I heard, listened, and truly followed Jesus in every area of my life?

As Christians, we want to say we do. But, from experience, I know how easy it is to listen “selectively.”

Consider just a few of Jesus’ instructions to His followers.

  • “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).

 

This instruction demands a total commitment to love God above all else – above family, friends, self; above work, goals, desires. Do I love God this way?

 

  • “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25).

 

This direction reminds me that following Christ means I also have to die – die to myself, my wants, and my desires. My life is no longer my own.

 

  • “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you or persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

 

This teaching reminds me that Jesus expects me to love others with a love like His.

I must love others even when I’m talked about, made fun of, used, and persecuted. That kind of love can only come from Christ’s love within us.

 

  • “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed” (John 8:31).

 

“Abide” can be defined as accepting and acting in accordance with. Synonyms for abide include endure, stand, and dwell. Do I accept all of God’s word or do I want to pick and choose what fits my agenda? Do I allow God’s word to teach, lead me, and change me? Or do I seek to change God’s word, or justify ways I fail to follow His word.

 

Following God involves more than just listening – more than just saying we agree. Following God involves an all-out commitment to live for Him – or more accurately to allow Him to live through us. As Paul stated to the Corinthians: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). It is this commitment, this desire to live for Him, that creates a longing in the believer’s heart to truly listen to and follow Jesus – in both good times and bad, when it is easy and when it is hard.

I can’t help but smile as I think of Snickers stealthily stretching those long legs across the yard, although I didn’t enjoy what she ultimately did. But oh, how I want to be that attentive when I hear my Savior’s voice, whether others hear or not, and to eagerly listen and respond.

 

 

 

 

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