[#pictureLent] February 20: PRAISE

06 Feb 18 Angels-01.jpg

By Rob Johnston
Area Director, Tolland County Young Life & YoungLife College at UConn
Tolland, CT

First, read Psalm 22:23-26

“Daddy, my knee really hurts, I scraped it on the driveway”…
“Daddy.” … “Daddy.” …  “Daaaaaaaaddddddddyyyyyy.”
“Huh? No, you can’t have any candy."

**The above is an excerpt from a conversation between my 5 year old and I while I was watching a movie. **

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I’m not the only parent who has done this.  And it doesn’t have to be about a TV show – my skills in ignoring the calls of others extend to: when I’m reading, while I’m working, while I’m on my phone, as I’m day dreaming, while I’m driving, and possibly my favorite – while I’m looking straight THROUGH the person who is speaking to me.  If “being otherwise engaged” was a spiritual gift, it would come in just after ‘Faith” for me.  It’s something I have been aware of for a while, and I’ve been working on it for almost as long. 

It’s pretty great that we are created and loved by a God who doesn’t listen like I do!  Dare I say like we do.

While reading this psalm, I was struck by the simple line “[he] has listened to his cry for help”  because it made me truly consider how many times I’ve been just too busy to listen to the world around me and help those in need.  Times where I was deaf to the concerns and needs of others because I was wrapped up in my own goings on. What if God were too busy to hear our cries?  That’s speculation, of course, because God is NEVER so wrapped up in God-stuff that we can’t be attended to.  We matter. And it’s shown in how we are listened to – how everything is dropped so that we are the main focus of God’s attention.

And this is but one of the reasons I praise him. For always listening – for seeing me as so important that my concerns are his concerns, that my pain is his pain, that my suffering does not go unnoticed or ignored.

Prayer: Loving God, who hears our cries and is with us in our suffering, we humbly ask that you teach us to listen to others, and put their needs above our busyness so that we may respond to them in the same way that you respond to us. Showing them the love you have for us, that we may better live out the command to love our neighbors. We ask this be done through the mercies and power of Christ Jesus. Amen.

Discussion/Reflection Questions (and be honest with yourselves):

1) Who are the ones who need your attention the most?  What do they tend to interrupt? What are the things that you prioritize over them?
2) What are the things that you are engaged in that allow you – or even cause you – to ignore the needs of the world at large?
3) What do your relationships look like if you truly listen to those in your orbit?