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Lessons I Learned on Watching and Listening

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” – Psalm 32:8

I can’t tell you exactly when or why, but before Keaton was born, I knew this verse was going to be “his” verse. I printed it out on pretty Robin’s Egg Blue striped paper and had it framed for his room. I knew it had to be declared over him at his baby dedication too, and so we gave that verse to our pastor to read, and he did. But, he surprisingly tagged on the next verse, which I had yet to pay attention to – and to be honest, I was kind of taken aback. Here’s what the next verse says…

Do not be like a stubborn horse or mule, who needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”

I wondered, “Could my precious little Keaton ever need to be kept under control because of his stubbornness?” I hardly thought so, standing there on stage during his dedication, holding his tiny eight week old body. Even as Keaton grew, he was a compliant little guy. He always aimed to please.

And then…he turned 10.

As all angelic children do, they eventually hit the pre-teen years. With those years come new struggles. We have found that one of them is his ability to listen. He wants to do things his own way and thinks he knows best.

Keaton is an avid baseball player – and has always been his team’s “unofficial” cheerleader. His voice has always been the loudest echoing through the ball diamond. Although his zeal was appreciated by his coaches, I eventually realized that his vocal chords were not appreciating it quite as much. After many bouts with losing his voice, I began to warn him that his abuse and overuse of his voice would do him harm and I told him he needed to control himself.

He did not listen. He did not pay attention to my warnings.

Sure enough, Keaton developed nodules on his vocal chords and he almost completely lost his voice.

Before this, Keaton could sing like a bird. He was gifted with very special vocal chords and I’ve often wondered if he was gifted with perfect pitch. He used to sing beautifully and effortlessly. I was devastated that he did not listen to me. He was also regretful and remorseful. He went through a painstaking process of being scoped (miserable for anyone, let alone a 10 year old), and the joy sucking process of having to be nearly silent for many weeks. He realized then, that his choice to not listen came with consequences.

Even though he was living the consequences, he was still having a hard time doing what he knew he needed to do to heal his voice. Even with major consequences on the line – missing out on baseball games, parties and other social events, he still had a hard time keeping quiet.

In the midst of this loathsome process, Dan and I remembered Psalm 32:8-9. We recalled the senseless mule that needed a bit and bridle to keep it under control. Keaton had become a little bit like that mule – refusing to be led in the right direction, so he unfortunately had to be yanked. (I’ll confess – masking tape served as our “bit and bridle” on occasion).

But, I can’t blame Keaton. He isn’t the only one who has a hard time listening.

One wretched night during this process, I felt overwhelming conviction that I too have been that senseless mule – and, in some areas, still am that mule. I have repeatedly needed to be yanked back on course by my Heavenly Father so He could lead me along the best pathway for my life.

Aren’t we all like this at times? We know which way is best, but all too often, we choose the other route – usually the easier or more comfortable route. We then must endure being hauled back.

So, how do we avoid the discomfort of the pull?

The King James version of this verse gives us the answer:

“I will guide you with mine eye.”

Another version says “I will counsel you with my loving eye”.

Think back to your childhood. Your parents loved you more than you could know, yet it didn’t feel that way when you were being corrected. Think of “the look” that your mom or dad would give you when you were young. You just knew when they wanted you to stop hitting your brother, or when you’d had more than enough handfuls of Jube Jubes at Grandma’s house. In public, they could tell you important things with just a quick stern look. The trick is, you had to be watching.

And, that’s the trick for all of us – we have to be close enough and paying attention to catch God’s eye.

God is our loving Heavenly Father, and although course correction can be painful, it is for our good. When He sees us veering off His best path for us – the one He’s leading us along, He may deem it necessary to jerk a bit to catch our attention and then lead us the way we need to go. We then need to listen closely for his direction, because He often speaks in a still, small voice.

Hebrews 12:6 reminds us that the Lord disciples those He loves. He never causes discomfort without good reason. The good news is that if we watch and listen to Him closely, the disciplinary measures greatly decrease.

Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs repetitive jerks or a loud stern voice to keep them in line, but let God guide you with his eye. Stay so close enough to Him that you know His “look”, that says, “Come this way.”, or His voice whispering to you, “That is not good for you.” When we watch and listen to our Good Shepherd – our Daddy; He will guide us along the very best pathway for our lives. I cannot think of a better suited tour guide.

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