Fourth Kind: Hear to Stay
And the seed sown in rich soil is someone who hears the word and understands it; this is the one who yields a harvest and produces now a hundredfold, now sixty, now thirty. (Matthew 13:23)
It should be obvious by now.
Spiritual growth is not automatic or accidental. It is intentional. And there are no shortcuts. You need to go through the process if the Word of God is to bear fruit in your life.
First, PAY ATTENTION.
Anticipate God’s communication. Listen to Him in prayer. Listen to Him through the people who deliver His message. Or even through ordinary people He sends your way. Read the Bible.
The greatest commandment (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) begins with this command – LISTEN! This means that loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength begins with active listening. Can we really claim to love someone we don’t pay attention to?
Follow the example of Mary. When the angel Gabriel came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” she considered in her mind the meaning of that greeting. (Luke 1:29). And when the shepherds came after she gave birth and told her what the angels said to them about her son, she pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2:19)
So ponder, consider, explore, analyze, and yes, even question the validity of God’s Word in your life.
Translate God’s Word into action. Don’t just listen to it. Do what it tells you. Apply it in your daily life.
The foundation of our faith is established only through constant practice. You want to be more loving? Practice. You want to be more patient? Practice. You want to be more generous? Practice. You want to become a saint? Practice!
In other words, take God’s Word seriously enough to allow it to alter your normal actions and reactions. This will prove difficult to do, but not impossible.
Keep in mind that you have an enemy who is out to distract you with temptations and to discourage you in times of trials. For what purpose? To frustrate God’s hopes for you. So that the seed of the Word of God will remain dormant in your life.
Don’t give him a chance to deceive you.
Commit to this process of growth no matter what challenges may come your way. Put your confidence in God even when what He says doesn’t seem to make sense in your particular circumstance. Carry out His will even when you just can’t perceive the difference it makes in your life. Trust that sooner or later, you will clearly see the wisdom of God’s ways and the fruits of your efforts. You will yield a harvest in time.
Listen to what the Lord says: For, as the rain and the snow come down from the sky and do not return before having watered the earth, fertilizing it and making it germinate to provide seed for the sower and food to eat, so it is with the Word that goes from My mouth: it will not return to Me unfulfilled or before having carried out my good pleasure and having achieved what it was sent to do. (ISAIAH 55:10-11)
Now let me repeat what I said in the beginning.
God is communicating with you. He speaks every time you hear mass. He speaks whenever you read the Bible. He speaks through the books that you read. He speaks in the events happening in your life. He speaks through the people He sends your way.
But whether God’s message makes a difference and an impact in your life depends not on the depth of what He says; it depends entirely on the quality of your hearing.
So it’s really up to you now. What kind of hearer are you?