I scooted up to the table to begin my morning routine. Coffee house jazz played quietly on Alexa. Steam wisped away off my oatmeal and coffee. The sunlight reflected off the worn pages of my bible. I couldn’t wait to have my morning of solitude and prayer.
That is, until my son John kept saying in my ear… “Hi Will…..Hi Will….” He sat nearby at the same table and flipped through his Lego building instructions creatively dialoguing a story in his head and out loud. My face frowned a little bit in irritation. He was interrupting my solitude.
“Dad. Get me a paper towel” I ignored my daughter’s request trying to focus on the words in front of me. Besides, she shouldn’t talk to me like that. A few seconds later, her voice pierced my ears again, “Dad! Get me a paper towel!!!”
“Get it yourself, Bekah. Don’t talk to daddy like that!” I looked back down at the page I was trying to read now for the fifth time.
I focused even more intently, trying to defy new noises that were now coming from William playing in the background.
“Hi Will…” Faster that John’s words echoed into my ears again, my arm instinctively reached over and my hand grabbed John’s Lego instructions and tossed it across the room. My mouth erupted, “Can’t you see that I’m doing my devotions? You guys need to quiet down!”
My solitude was ruined and it made me angry. I was boiling inside. My son felt ashamed and left his food at the table though he had done nothing wrong.
This embarrassing story is true. I knew at that moment I had failed. I was fixated on my morning ritual rather than being faithful to what God wanted me to do. He wasn’t asking me to read my Bible and pray. He wanted me to practice engagement and love with my wife and children. I had to give everyone an apology. What a disaster I created!
Inside, I knew my obsession with my ritual was damaging my relationships. Ironically, I wasn’t listening to God in that moment, even when I was trying to pursue Him most.
In Luke 8, Jesus tells a simple story used to illustrate a spiritual lesson to the crowd that was pressing in on him. The crowd listened intently about a story about a farmer who scattered seed. Some seed fell on a path and was eaten by birds. Other seed fell on rock, didn’t take root, and withered away after it sprouted. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced a crop.
The disciples were as confused as the crowd. Jesus explained that God’s word is the seed that is cast among all people. They have all heard it, but for various reasons the seed was not implanted into everyone’s lives so that it was heard, understood and put into practice by everybody. It was only those who had a good heart that retained the seed of God’s word and persevered through the season of their life to produce a crop for the farmer (Luke 8:15).
Jesus then warned his disciples that everything we do in life will be brought to light. We will be held accountable for what we do and who we are. The exhortation to the disciples then was, “Take care then how you hear…(v.18).”
As the crowd squeezed against Jesus, someone yelled out from the back, “Hey, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.” But Jesus gave a peculiar response:
“My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it” (v. 21).
Jesus had a one track mind. He went from town to town to do the will of the father (John 4:34). Doing God’s will was Jesus’ fixation. This is what it means to hear the word of God and do it.
The question in Luke 8:1-21 is, “What is my fixation?” What am I focused on right at this moment? Is it the right thing?
Insisting on doing my devotions, even though my family needed some attention, wasn’t doing the right thing. As a result, I felt like I was losing control. Anger began to build. When my expectations weren’t being met, I blew up. I wasn’t listening very well to what God was really wanting me to do. My morning ritual was leading me, not the Holy Spirit.
When we get angry, our problems may actually be a hearing problem. A listening problem. A problem of application. Are we fixated on what we want to do and not paying attention to God’s voice in the moment? Are our assumptions about God’s voice incorrect in those angry moments? Could it be that when we are angry we are listening more to our voice more than anything else?
If we suddenly find ourselves angry and we aren’t doing well, our problem may be that we aren’t hearing well.