I remember when my children were small and I wanted to tell them something important. They’d be focused on other things and not paying attention. In order to have them hear me, I’d start by saying, “Look at me.” Once I had their visual attention they could hear me much better.
Come to think of it, this is still the case in attempting to communicate with anyone distracted by television, cell phones or other electronics. They will respond as if they know what I said but the message is forgotten as soon as I walk away.
It is up to me to ensure my words are heard and understood. I can’t assume this is the case if I haven’t confirmed it.
An example of this came in a conversation in which one man said, “I always listen; I just don’t always hear.” Isn’t that interesting? He would listen to what was said, but if he didn’t think the subject matter was of importance to him, didn’t actually take it in. He could be looking directly at the person speaking and still not be paying attention.
I confess to occasionally allowing my mind to wander when someone is speaking to me. Sometimes I’m formulating a response to them and others I’m going through a mental to-do list. When either of these happens I am not giving the conversation the undivided attention it deserves. It takes a conscious effort to be a good listener.
It’s no accident that the words listen and silent are made up of the same six letters. In order to really listen and hear what is being said, I need to be silent. Not just vocally, but also to silence and focus my mind. Only then will I truly hear you.
Late in the afternoon I decided to make a zucchini chocolate cake for dessert.
I grated the zucchini, put it aside and combined the dry ingredients. Pulling out the mixer I beat butter, sugar and eggs. The dry ingredients needed to be added alternately with milk, so I quickly measured the liquid.
One eye was on the clock because I wanted this to be ready by dinner time. Half the flour mixture was added. While this was blending I greased the bundt pan. Returning to the mixer I added the remaining dry ingredients. I wondered why the mixture was so dry. Then I saw the grated zucchini still waiting to be added. It should have been added before the dry ingredients. I hoped this wouldn’t impact the results.
My husband entered the kitchen as I was pouring the batter into the pan. I placed it in the oven and he pointed to a measuring cup on the other end of the counter and asked, “Was this milk supposed to go in the cake?” Quickly I retrieved the cake from the oven, scraped it out of the pan and back into the mixing bowl. The milk was blended in, the cake pan washed and greased and once again the cake was in the oven.
I was upset with myself for the foolish mistakes I’d made. If I’d been paying attention rather than rushing everything would have gone smoother. All I could do now was hope for the best.
Much to my relief the end result was delicious. I admired this miracle cake that was a success despite the challenges.
If a delicate cake can endure these difficulties and still end up with the desired results, there’s hope for me! God can take my errors, oversights and last minute decisions and work them together for his good. He is in the business of performing miracles. In his hands I know everything will turn out just the way he planned.
We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God – those whom he has called according to his plan. (Romans 8:28 GWT)
He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. (Job 5:9 NIV)