Encouragement for Today
Sharon Jaynes, Vice President of Radio, Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member
Luke 8:18, “Therefore consider carefully how you listen. “ (NIV)
We all know the table etiquette rule, “Don’t talk with your mouth full.” But I’ve decided we need a prayer etiquette rule that says, “Don’t pray with your mind full.” We need to get away from the noise of life and concentrate on hearing His still small voice.
One of the loudest places that I know of is the hair salon. My hair is stick-strait with zero body. It was the perfect hair for the sixties, when straight hair parted down the middle like the
- French poodles would stop and stare, wondering if I was one of their long-lost relatives.
- My family would walk about ten paces behind me with clothespins on their noses.
- I would have a red stripe across my forehead near my hairline.
For some reason, the skin on my forehead is sensitive, and the perm solution has a tendency to burn a red stripe just below my hairline. The last time I went in for this session in vanity, Barbara, my hairdresser, put petroleum jelly across this area to avoid the “mark of the beast.” After winding my hair on a thousand tiny rods, she applied a neutralizing solution and placed me under a hair dryer to process. In the meantime, I processed what was going on around me in the beauty salon. It was wall-to-wall with women, some with their heads in sinks and some reading with their heads under the dryers.
I was sitting there thinking about how ridiculous we all looked when Barbara walked up and asked, “How’s your cornbread?”
How’s my cornbread? What a crazy question! I leaned out from under the roar of the dryer and asked, “What did you say?”
She repeated, “How’s your forehead?”
I told her that I thought she had said, “How’s your cornbread?” Everyone started laughing. But the amazing thing is that for the next thirty minutes, everyone talked about corn bread. Some liked the middle square. Some like the corners. Some like it with buttermilk. Some like it crumbled up in milk. It went on and on. A whole treatise developed on the joys of cornbread.
Still observing and processing, I thought of how many times a life is changed by something someone thought someone else said. Walls have been built and friendships destroyed over misunderstandings. And even when the error is corrected, some keep discussing, mulling over, and ruminating on what they thought they had heard.
As the dryer roared in my ears, I thought about how God must feel when He speaks to His sheep and our heads are in such a noisy place that we can’t tell exactly what He’s saying. A Martha, busy in the kitchen, might hear, “How’s your cornbread?” But a listening Mary might correctly hear, “How’s your forehead?” I need to make sure that when I’m listening to the Lord, I get my head out from under the noise and hear Him correctly.
I may have left that day with a perm in my hair and a red mark across the top of my forehead. But I also left with a renewed desire to listen closely to the Father’s voice, so He can leave a permanent mark on my heart.
My Prayer for Today:
Dear Lord, help me to be good listener. Help me to listen to what You have instructed me to do, first and foremost. Then, help me to listen diligently to others, as I seek wisdom on how to communicate with them during times of difficulty and times of encouragement. May Your Spirit lead me to discern how to respond to them in these times, and keep me far from gossip and its damaging consequences. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Have you ever experienced the rippling effects of gossip or misunderstandings that have never been resolved? It is a painful experienced to go through. As the Bible says, gossip “separates close friends” (Proverbs 16:28).
- If you have experienced this kind of division within a friendship, ask God to help you forgive that person.
- If it’s you that has done the dirty work, ask God to break down your pride and apologize to the one you have hurt. Though it may not be able to erase the memory of what that hurt caused, it can ease the intensity of pain and bitterness.
- When you find yourself in a sticky situation where gossip is potentially going to be an issue, ask God to give you discernment about whether or not to listen or to simply leave the room.
So many times, we as women say things to other women under the banner of sharing “prayer requests,” only to find ourselves engaging in a gossip-filled conversation about someone who probably didn’t want their entire story shared with someone else.
Have you ever taken part in this type of “sharing”, and found yourself stretching the truth?
Have you ever added parts to the story that never existed or taken other important parts away to make it more interesting and peak curiosity or concern?
Did your little white lie become a huge, hurtful misunderstanding about you or someone else?
The key is to listen to God’s leading in these situations. He provides discernment and wisdom when we ask for it, and if we listen to His leading we can avoid the pitfalls of not fully “listening” to others and keeping their confidence.
Proverbs 20:19, “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.” (NIV)
Proverbs 8:33, “Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not ignore it.” (NIV)
Exodus 15:26b, “God said, ‘If you listen, listen obediently to how God tell you to live in his presence, obeying his commandments and keeping all his laws.’” (The Message)
Becoming a Woman Who Listens to God, by Sharon Jaynes
At Home with God, by Sharon Jaynes
The Ultimate Makeover, by Sharon Jaynes