“The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly…” (Acts 16:14)
Paul’s mission to Macedonia, the beginning of his long and loving relationship with the church at Philippi, began with an encounter with women at a place of prayer. Among them was Lydia, a Gentile who believed in the God of Israel. Though she did not share a Jewish heritage with the Jerusalem-based disciples, she knew and worshipped Yahweh.
When Lydia heard Paul talk about Jesus, draw the lines from the God she already knew to the Christ, it wasn’t just an auditory exercise. God prepared her: not only by opening her ears so she could understand, but by opening her heart so she could respond in faith.
Lydia listened with her heart. Eagerly: leaning in toward Paul, eyes fixed on his face, anticipating his next word. Holding her breath, her heart racing. She was a no-nonsense woman, the head of a household, a business leader… and the call of Christ grabbed her attention, compelled her to offer up her home, her resources, her life to the Way.
I want to be a listener like Lydia, open-hearted, expectant, responsive. But our world is full of racket, and my instinct is to cover my ears, try my best not to have to hear it. As a kid, I’d grip my pillow over my ears during thunderstorms, and hide in the house on the Fourth of July; I wish it was as easy now to block out the uproar, the bellowing, the explosions. I’m afraid of missing the voice of God.
We’re overwhelmed by noise: the
and argue and complain and insist and insult
and claim to have the best product
and sell the best solution
and boast of the best way.
It is a rip current.
We can’t help it:
if we didn’t tune out,
press our hands over our ears to muffle the sounds,
we would go under.
We would lose ourselves
in the angry waves.
Please don’t wait for us to surface,
to grasp those rare moments of peace that allow us to
hear our own names,
to glimpse the shore,
come to us as you did to Lydia,
open our hearts to
prepare us for your story, to
prepare us for your salvation.
Though we cannot bear the noises that crash over us,
we will listen eagerly for you.
Our ears are flooded, O Lord.
In your mercy,
speak to us by heart.