Needed: Better Listeners
IN school, a teacher would say, essentially, ``You people just don't listen!'' The point was that if we had paid attention, we would have done better in class and on tests. Obviously, listening to what others are saying goes beyond the need to converse intelligently. Sometimes vital information is coming our way, and we have to be aware of it.
On the other hand, much of what we hear is of questionable value, though it may seem significant at the moment. Of course, important issues should be discussed, and people need to think deeply about the challenges that face us all. But there's little of a productive nature that can come from mere chatter about trivial items or endless, empty speculation about the larger issues.
Fortunately, there's a higher type of listening that can help us find reliable guidance to sort out the meaningful from the useless. It's listening, in prayer, to the wise direction of our creator, to God's pure thoughts. This is far more than a comforting, though impractical, religious sentiment. It's powerful, practical truth. Where else, ultimately, can we turn for guidance than to the one infinite Mind, to God, Truth, Himself, who is infinitely above the limited, often confused, human perception of things? In the Bible we read: ``My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.''1
People are inclined to disregard God in the day-to-day course of events unless, perhaps, they're pressed by some urgent need. The tendency is to act solely on what our eyes and ears tell us, on what human opinion and reasoning suggest we should do. Certainly, we shouldn't ignore the valid views of others. But we need to be better listeners to discern when such views are helpful and when they are not. Because God is all-knowing Mind, supreme good -- as Christ Jesus' healing ministry and the Bible as a whole illustrate -- we might well be more receptive to the promptings of divine wisdom when we are listening wholeheartedly to Him. ``Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding,'' the Scriptures eloquently counsel us. ``In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.''2
It's not helpful to picture God as watching over human experience with its intricacies and manipulating people's lives like pieces on a chessboard. But, God does behold the perfection of what He created, the absolute spiritual reality of existence, which He saw as ``very good.'' He is knowing man as His spiritual image and is governing him wisely, caring for his every need. It's because this is the truth of being, transcending appearances, that God's ways are higher than the designs of the human mind.
When we listen in prayer for God's thoughts, we come into greater harmony with His perfect government. We are guided to see clearly what we need to do in our lives or in relation to the issues of the day. If we're patient and persistent in prayer, in our listening for His thoughts, we'll find the guidance we need. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says succinctly, ``God's thoughts are perfect and eternal, are substance and Life.''3 We can begin to prove this as we're willing through prayer to turn to a higher source -- our creator -- for direction.
1Isaiah 55:8, 9. 2Proverbs 3:5, 6. 3Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 286.