(Ink, Stabilo pencil, watercolor, and a (found) butterfly wing. Titled "I Will Lead Unashamed")
There can be no obedience without listening. There is no real listening without relationship to God, and to people who are faithful to tell us what we do not want to hear.
Obedience is not taking a principle or method, and applying it with literal exactitude. And it certainly is not taking feelings and making them fact. Such inflexible "obedience" is actually a manifestation of not listening...it is deafness...it quickly becomes absurd. Obedience is to hear, in the moment, the heart of the One who is in charge.
There can be no obedience without being willing to hear. Not just hear words...hear heart.
At no time are we in more danger of defaulting into a deaf-absurdity, than in mid-life. After all, we've earned our many merit badges, like good life-scouts. We can now chart our own course, and we do not have to listen to anyone but ourselves...or to those ever-faithful to "prophesy" to our flesh.
On many levels, we can become "hard of hearing" beginning in mid-life. My husband, who is a mere 54 (post edit: age was updated to reflect 2018), and a tad hard of hearing, having been a drummer all his life, asked me, awhile back, with a baffled expression, "What is it about mid-life, for some people??"
He's right. At this transitional turning point in time, we choose a certain perspective, we cling to it as our reality...and thus set the course for the rest of our lives. In. Cement.
We either summon the courage to take the creative, relational path of grace and truth, or we, often precisely at mid-point, begin our descent into a self-preserving, strange absurdity. Rigid in our inflexible pain-points, we lose hearing, sight, smell, and we lose touch with people who used to matter to us. There is no fruit, no sweet smelling-tasting-beautiful harvest to be had in absurdity.
Every life has trauma in the middle. But for some, trauma becomes a way to justify not hearing.
Mid-life can bring insensibility, or it can set us free to experience God and relationships with eyes wide open, ears attuned, head doused, dripping in the oil of gladness, and plowing straight into what God intends to be the harvest-time of our lives.
How do we know if we are living the life of obedient listening, or the disobedience of not hearing? Look for any signs of the ridiculous. Look for the extreme, absurd reaction. Also, look for the cool, intellectual rigidity of the quid pro quo ethos: tit for tat. You are this way, I respond that way. You offend me, I withdraw. Your worth has been measured, your "work" evaluated, and I "pay" with a kiss, always. I do not listen for anything more, I hear nothing more as to your value beyond what I evaluate, in terms of my own needs and expectations.
Absurdity. Deafness. I weep at the thought.
Rather, I want courage and victory.
Victory...true victory...has a voice. It is the voice of the community. I want to adjust my perspective to be able to hear the sound of it. It is a sound of joyful shouting, coming from the family tent. After all, I shall be 55 years old in a few years (updated for 2018)...regardless of the lateness of the hour, I need my mind renewed to be able to hear.
Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! ...You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you.