Is Anybody Listening?

Key Texts: Psalm 78:1-4

My people, hear my teaching;

    listen to the words of my mouth.

I will open my mouth with a parable;

    I will utter hidden things, things from of old—

things we have heard and known,

    things our ancestors have told us.

We will not hide them from their descendants;

    we will tell the next generation

the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,

    his power, and the wonders he has done.


As I juxtapose the reading of the daily newspaper with this Psalm from thousands of years ago, I find myself asking a question, to no one in particular: “Is anybody listening?”

There are days when this question seems especially poignant, or pressing.

God has so graciously left us with instructions for living.  These instructions, as I find them, are less a “do this” and “do that” as a conversation.  I don’t mean by this that the conversation to which Scripture invites us is one where we will “take we like and leave the rest.”  Rather, I mean it is an opportunity to learn how the universe has been created, sustained, and operates, all under the watchful, righteous, just, and loving hand of God.

Still, it seems to me that too many these days are turning down the opportunity for that conversation.

They (we) are too often too sure of other authorities, other ways.  We are arrogantly confidant that “we know better” even while we often find ourselves throwing up our hands in despair.

So, why not take another hard look at this Psalm as an alternative way?

“My people, hear my teaching…” sounds like a wonderful invitation.

I believe that if we accept that invitation – to open the Scriptures – to pray – to listen – God will be faithful to once again “utter hidden things, things from of old, things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us.”  God will be gracious to speak His parables once again, and give us another chance to mine the riches there.

Is anybody listening?  Sometimes, I think not.

But I remain ever hopeful that whenever we turn to listen, God is waiting to open the conversation again.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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