Sunday, November 9, 2008

If you have ears...

I've been reading a book called "Coaching 101".

Although I haven't finished this book yet, one thing which keeps coming through is the point on how important it is to listen.

When I picked up the book originally, I thought "great, now I can learn how to help people and give them advice and coach them through their problems etc", but the book actually emphasizes NOT to give advice, but to simply listen and ask questions.

Wow. I thought a coach was someone who had all the answers. I thought they were a person who people came to because they were skilled in life and knew a whole heap about dealing with relationships and problems.

Not so. The book says to simply come alongside someone. To listen to them. To ask them questions that eventually lead them to figure things out on their own!

Man I wish I had read this book five years ago. I remember trying to lead a smallgroup of teens once a week. I had to throw in the towel and pass the group over to someone else as I was too overwhelmed. I believed that being a leader you needed to be able to answer all the hard questions and be a step ahead of those you were leading. How wrong was my thinking.

I must say that I think every smallgroup leader should read this book! It has taken so much pressure off of my shoulders to know that I don't have to have all the answers. I don't have to have a brain full of knowledge and wisdom to lead a group or help some friends through difficult decisions.

When was the last time someone sat down with you and just listened to you? How did it make you feel? Valued? Loved? And when was the last time you listened to somebody without jumping in with your advice or finishing their sentence?

A challenge isn't it?

Sometimes all people need is someone to listen to them. And often their problem doesn't seem too big anymore. I love that saying, "A problem shared, is a problem halved." So incredibly true.

My next question is, when was the last time you listened to God? Have you sat down with Him and just listened for a bit, or has your mouth rattled off a list of complaints or frustrations that you've been feeling?

I love the passage of scripture where Jesus takes His three disciples up the mountain and God overshadows them. Jesus is transfigured and Moses and Elijah appear. Peter immediately gets up and wants to build three tabernacles for Jesus, Moses and Elijah when suddenly God's voice interrupts him and says, "This is my beloved Son, HEAR Him!"


I know that I can get so caught up in life's busyness. My hands seem full of service and chores. My mind pre-occupied with the next three tasks at hand. My emotions stirred in many directions.

I want to do so much for God and that may be your heart's desire too. The best thing for us is to hear Him. How do we learn about someone and get to really know them? By listening to them. It's then that we discover their biggest dreams, their desires, their heart.

His heart.

If you have ears then let them hear...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Rug Doctor

Yes I agree with Little Dee. What has happened to everyone's blogs over the last couple of weeks? Busy - seems to be the answer for me! So as I catch my breath for a few moments, I will recall a little revelation.

There's a song we sing sometimes which I've battled to agree with. Some of the words go like this:

Lead me to the cross
Where Your love poured out
Bring me to my knees
Lord I lay me down
Rid me of myself
I belong to You
Lord lead me, lead me to the cross

A very heavy mouthful to sing. The line which hit me hard was 'rid me of myself'. I keep thinking "now that can't be right! Why would I want You to rid me of who I am." But now I realise that's not what the line is saying.

Let me explain.

I enter a home once a week. The people who live there have the most amazing rugs throughout their home, and I've come to notice that they are all from the same set. Same colours and patterns, just different sizes.

There's one that greets you as you come through the front door. It travels over the first set of stairs. It is bright red and very beautiful (I vacuum this rug on a regular basis - it hears my singing!)

Then there is a shorter version of the same rug stretched out over the lounge floor. It is terribly faded as is the big square rug underneath the dining room table and the tiny rug in one of the bedrooms. They have faded to a light red, slightly pinkish colour and even though the patterns and markings are still there, they have no vibrance quite like the first rug.

Why are they faded? It's because the afternoon sun hits them everyday, and has done so for many many years. Meanwhile the bold red rug lies in a dark hallway in perfect condition.

I've been considering 'the cost' over the last month. And while thinking back on those words 'rid me of myself' it has been a fear of mine that if I truly surrendered my whole self to God, that me, Nina, would be lost somewhere in this heart transformation (some of you reading this might just think that my brain is warped for thinking this - you are right).

So when visiting this home mentioned above, God broke through this thought with the basic illustration of these rugs. The rug left in the dark will always be it's true self. Bold in colour, glorious to look at, but it remains in the dark. The other rugs who are faded and pale have the mark of the sun on them, and while they have lost some of their colour, their greatest feature now is the fact that they have been hit by the sun and it has changed them.

Do you get where I am going with this? When you walk in the light as He is in the light, you will change because you carry the mark of the Son. His affect on you will be evident. Have you lost who you are because of this? No. Has God rid you of yourself? No. He has simply covered you with Himself and the world now sees more of Him and less of you (which as Christians this is our aim right?)

To be more Christlike should be every Christians main goal in life. Counting the cost and all of it's surrendering will not kill you (just all the bad stuff that comes along with you).

To me those faded rugs now seem more precious then the one left alone in the dark. There seems to be more life in those faded rugs, more depth to their character, more of a story to tell. And I want my life to be like that for God. I want Him to write His name all over me with a permanent vivid! I want Him to overshadow my character so much that I don't resemble me, but Him. I'm still me, but as John the baptist said, "I must decrease, so that He may increase."

So rid me of myself, I belong to You.
Lead me to the cross.