Understanding the needs of a newborn requires a keen ear. With that being said, even with the best hearing their needs can be difficult to distinguish. Are they hungry, thirsty, dirty or sick? Sometimes they are tired and just want to be held. Whatever the reason, babies are like the line in the commercial from some years ago about the stockbroker; “When he cries, everybody listens.”
Within a few days of birth, the mother develops a new sense of hearing and begins to understand the language of her baby. Suddenly the rustling of a blanket becomes a call to action, sometimes before the baby even cries. This special bonding is not the result of an improved sense of hearing, it occurs from learning to listen with the heart. This heart transformation process, which began with the baby in the womb, is fully realized after birth.
God wants a relationship with us which demonstrates this heart transformation process. He tells us in Isaiah 46: 3-4, “Listen to me…you whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you.” Just as a mother nurtures her child, God is there in the good times and when the lines grow long on your face. It seems everyone has an opinion when the baby cries but the line to hold the baby is a lot longer than the line to change the baby’s diaper. Life is messy but with a transformed heart we are better equipped to hear from the heart of God.
The parent and child relationship sometimes requires the child to do things which challenges the bonding. If the relationship is strong and committed through positive experiences, the trust will sustain. My test of faith occurred when I was financially insecure. With four children and four part time jobs our situation was dire. After teaching a fitness class, I walked past the desk where Thelma worked and heard God tell me to give her $20.00. Initially I thought it was just my imagination, especially since the twenty was the only twenty I had and it was needed to buy diapers for the twins. Twins use a lot of diapers! Already running late for my next job, I dismissed God’s request and reasoned He wouldn’t have provided the twenty to me just so I could give it to someone else. The tugging on my heart continued and I asked God to give me a sign about the money. At that very moment Thelma entered the parking lot across from me and I knew what I had to do. I quickly exited my car and ran to her. I handed Thelma the bill and told her “God wants you to have this money.” As she unfolded the twenty, tears began streaming down her face and she explained it was the exact amount needed to pay an overdue bill. On my way home to change clothes, I wondered if I had been apart of God’s plan and began to be concerned about my own needs. Upon my arrival home, there was a mysterious box on my porch. The box was full of diapers. But God wasn’t done blessing me; the next morning miraculously attached to the driver’s side window of my car was a twenty dollar bill. The world classified me as single but God said “You are not alone.”
Listening can also be important physically. Our body can tell us when there is a problem but we must be willing to listen and take appropriate action. My sciatica can be a chatterbox, interrupting days and nights. One of the best ways to address the pain of sciatica is through hamstring stretching exercises. Sciatica can be caused or aggravated by tightness in the hamstring muscles which places increased stress on the low back. Remember to check with your medical professional before attempting to treat your condition with stretching exercises. Once you have established the proper diagnosis, this exercise can help with the rehabilitation. Lie on the back and while supporting the knee with your hand, slowly release the knee until you feel the stretch in the back of your thigh. Attempt to get the bottom of the foot to face the ceiling and hold this position for ten seconds. Gradually increase the stretch to 90 seconds and then alternate to the other leg. Stretching can be beneficial for other back pain and generally should be included with any regular exercise program.
In Mark 4:9 Jesus says, “He who has ears to hear, let them hear.” This verse is trying to teach us the difference between hearing and listening. To listen requires action after hearing. He wants us to take His word and incorporate it into every aspect of our life. This is the difference between a life experience and experiencing a life well lived.