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  • Writer's picturePaper Paladin

There's a Difference Between Listening and Heeding

I was called to write about infertility.

"Really? God called you?

Right?! How does someone in this day and age explain that?!

It was not a loud-booming-audible-voice call.

Rather, it was soft, uncomfortable, and compelling.

And it wasn't something I heard in an instant. I trace the start of it to reading “Can You Hear Me? Tuning in to the God Who Speaks” by Brad Jersak.

If you’re skeptical about the fact that God still speaks, know that I was too. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to read the book, but a wonderful person convinced me it couldn’t hurt to try. (And because I tend to need hand-holding, she read it along with me. THANK YOU!)

So, I read the book. And it totally changed my perspective, not just about the fact that God still speaks, but our ability and resistance to tune in. Once I tuned in, well, surprise, surprise (although it shouldn't have been), I heard God.

Which leads me to this: listening (or tuning in) and heeding (putting into action) what you're hearing are two very different things.

Full warningspeaking from experiencewhen you start listening, what you hear may not be what you want.

In parallel to reading the book, the church I was attending was doing a series on the book of Exodus. I remember being intrigued by Moses' resistance to God’s call to return to Egypt and lead the nation of Israel out of Egypt. Moses came up with some good excuses. So many, in fact, that it is recorded that God got angry at Moses (Exodus 4:14).

So, when I heard the call to write, I said, “ok, God let’s do this!”


It went more like this:

1. “God, you’ve got the wrong person.”

2. “You know I’m an engineer, right? I specifically chose my profession to get away from words.”

3. “And people.” I softly whispered.

This kind of internal dialogue went on for weeks.

And then, this very real image appeared in my mind (out of nowhere) of Moses standing near a burning bush and giving all his excuses. And I felt this deep, uncomfortable reality that I was Moses. It was a tremendous weight of awareness that I WAS MAKING EXCUSES.

I didn’t want to research infertility.

I didn’t want to write about it.

It didn’t make sense to me.

Yes, I had friends experiencing infertility, but I had not.

That is when the difference between listening and heeding became real to me.

If I genuinely believed the God I professed to, then my excuses didn’t matter. Was I willing to heed the call?

No spoiler alert is needed, but I wouldn’t be broadcasting this post to the entire world if I hadn’t.

There is an oft-overlooked verse in the Bible, Luke 14:28, where Jesus says:

“For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?” (NASB 1995)

The practicality of this verse is striking. When we humans profess to follow Jesus, we need to constantly remind ourselves of the daily costs of that choice (i.e. we might not be liked by everyone, we might get called to leave our comfort behind, things might feel uncertain). God wants us to be active citizens of His redemptive kingdom; not children pacified with the status quo. He will impart what we need to do the good work He’s already planned for us, and we need to be willing to roll up our sleeves and get to it.

Speaking from experience.

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