In my experience, most people like to talk. Fewer listen. People are keenly interested in what they’re saying. Fewer ask questions or show as much interest when listening. It’s one of those little evidences of the fall. Conversation is more self-centered than other-centered.
This also plays out spiritually. When I talk to God, I tend to be full of my own affairs or concerns. Something I do regularly is ask the Lord if there’s something He wants to talk about. Is there something He wants to show me? Then I listen–sometimes more successfully than others.
This week I asked God if there was anything on His heart that He wanted to share. I said, “I don’t want to be full of my affairs. I want to be full of your affairs.” The Lord replied, “You are full of my affairs.” As He spoke, He showed me that all my affairs are His affairs because we are one. All His affairs are also my affairs.
This is how marriages work. Years ago, my wife worked at a daycare & preschool. One of her jobs was to do the grocery shopping, and she was paid a little extra to do this. The groceries being needed during the week, she shopped on the weekend. It was a big job, and the many groceries were heavy for her to haul in. At some point (probably at her request), I began helping. It wasn’t my job, and I certainly wasn’t paid. I did it because we are married. Certainly, we do many things independently. But in an overall sense, there aren’t her things to do and mine. We are married. There isn’t her life and mine. There is our life, together.
The Lord’s answer to me was full of this marital perspective. Humans live in a mindset of separation–from God and each other. Once again, His thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are His ways our ways (Isaiah 55:8).
I want to keep considering the Lord, asking about His thoughts, showing interest in His hopes and plans. I also want to see our relationship as He does–we are joined whether I’m preaching a sermon or visiting family; whether I’m praying kingdom prayers or telling Him about my crummy day. “For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, since we are members of His body” (Eph. 5:29-30).
As members of His body, how can anything that concerns us not concern Him? My injured hand would barrage my brain with nerve impulses about its injury. Is my brain’s response, “Stop being so self-centered”, as if my hand were a separate being? No! If anything, my brain directs my other members to care for the injury.
The Lord’s unaffected goodness continues to stop me in my tracks. The things He says never cease to surprise me. You’d think, after 26-ish years, I wouldn’t be surprised or amazed anymore. But His mercies are new every morning (Lam. 3:22-23). Newness–never before exisiting newness–is God’s nature. To say I don’t deserve Him is an understatement–a fall-down, hide-my-face-and-cry understatement. But that’s kind of the point, isn’t it?