Stop, Look, and Listen!by Dan Stolebarger, Director of Koinonia Institute
Stop, look and listen! I bet you’ve heard this phrase before, but honestly, when was the last time you heeded the message? Most of the time, Life just...is, and when we fail to “stop, look and listen,” we miss out on all the texture and color of our existence and content ourselves with only black-and-white experiences of life! So, if this introduction has grabbed you, then read on; if not, go on to the next article—there are plenty of black-and-white words to be read if that’s all you’re after!
Do not allow others to keep you from a life of reflection. Re-member, Life just...is—and if you fail to be intentional in regards to stopping, then believe me (and I know this from personal experience), you never will! One thing is for sure, you will be busy!
I owe this newly found need to stop in my life to my wife. I remember times in Israel when we would get back to the room, totally exhausted, and I would catch a glimpse of my Sharon tearing up. When I inquired, she would say: “I missed Jesus today.” In other words, she was so busy seeing, exploring and working that she never STOPPED and so, at the end of a busy day, she was unfulfilled.
This experience has caused us to remind ourselves and our fellow travelers to Israel to be on guard and, as we so often put it in our materials, “Don’t be so busy touring the land Jesus walked that you miss Jesus!”
Recently, I have found this concept even more necessary in my everyday life. I need to stop and carve out time to experience color in my life! I truly believe that if I don’t learn this lesson, then I will die—maybe not physically, but mentally and spiritually I will become part of the “walking dead” that populates most of our culture.
Do you know anyone who is a stopper? It really isn’t difficult; it just requires DISCIPLINE. Make it a point to STOP today. Start with a ten minute “time out,” but remember that this is just the first part of the “stop, look and listen” phrase. After you actually stop, then you need to look.
What does it mean to look?
Looking is part of the process of going from the surface to the inside. Life is more than just breadth; it is also depth, and to find depth we need to be intentional and look for it. As children, we are told to look both ways before crossing. As adults we need to take time to LOOK back as well as ahead even though we live in the now.
It has been said that change cannot begin its process until true evaluation takes place. We need to look, ponder and ask for God’s vision in regards to our lives. This can be a painful process, but if you are tired of living a mediocre, colorless life, then there is no substitute.
Take a moment to LOOK at your life. Are you walking close to Jesus, or are you charging ahead only looking for His ratification rather that His will for your life and your plans? Or have you taken a spiritual detour and, without realizing it, drifted away and fallen behind? Remember, change begins with honesty and truth, not argument and compromise.
Again, take a “Selah moment” and meet with the Lord your God and ask Him to help you to take a LOOK at your life.
Finally, as we draw near to God, let us fear Him and draw near with a sense of awe and respect. Let us be slow to speak and quick to listen, for we must hear the Word of the Lord. Amos gives a picture of the most devastating famine the world can ever know when he warns:
Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord GOD, That I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine of bread, Nor a thirst for water, But of hearing the words of the LORD. They shall wander from sea to sea, And from north to east; They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the LORD, But shall not find it. In that day the fair virgins and strong young men Shall faint from thirst.
The sensual portal of choice for the Holy Spirit seems to be the ears; we must learn to listen. “He who has an ear, let him HEAR!” We need to “be still and know that He is God!” We need to be with Him in order to hear Him.
I just read some statistics that is cause for great concern:
Christian Research, a think tank based in England, has published its latest report. It says that by 2035, more British citizens will be worshipping in mosques than in churches. The think tank has warned that 4,000 churches could close by 2020 if congregations continue to shrink at current rates. Less than a mil-lion British residents attend church on a weekly basis at present, out of 41 million Brits who identify themselves as “Christians.”
More than 50% of the Muslims who responded to the survey said they prayed every day, compared to 6.3% of Christians who attend church services weekly on a regular basis. The key to the emerging religious climate in the UK is not with claims of identity, but with actual lifestyle practice. When only 6.3% of those who claim Christian identity actually practice their faith while more than 50% of Muslims are praying every day, indicating serious devotion to the Islamic way of life, the situation warrants close attention.
The time has come for those who profess the NAME to wake and RISE UP! We need to STOP, LOOK and LISTEN in order to be better equipped to fight in the war that is currently raging!