This Michigan mama’s blog was one of the first I ever read and she’s never stopped being a mentor to me. Karen Ehman and I have prayed for and cheered each other on as we’ve stirred soup, raised children, loved our husbands, and tried our best to make our homes and lives reflect the heart of God. Her new book Listen, Love, Repeat shows us how to live an other-centered life in the midst of our self-obsessed world, reflecting the good news of the gospel as we do. Karen pulls up a chair on the farm’s porch today to teach us how to lean in and listen to others, gaining a glimpse into their hearts, and then respond with an act of kindness. Listen, Love, Repeat—it isn’t just a clever title. It’s the way that my friend lives. Now it’s your turn to start. It’s a grace to welcome Karen to the farm’s front porch today…
I never tire of reading the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life.
Although I love reading from both the Old and New Testaments, I would be perfectly happy just to sit and soak in the Scriptures that give eyewitness account to what Jesus did while on Earth.
The Gospels make Jesus come to life in HD. (Wouldn’t that be the best reality show of all?)
Although He was the Son of God and on a very big mission, Jesus was never too busy to notice.
He lived alert.
He could be among a crowd of thousands and yet focus in on one weary soul who needed a look, a word, or a touch.
Sometimes, even while on his way to do something that seemed grand and important, He turned his attention to what appeared to be lesser requests.
Because Jesus wasn’t about doing big things. He was about doing the right thing. And often for Him, the right thing was noticing one simple soul.
Mark 5 records such a scene for us. A large crowd was gathered. A ruler of the synagogue named Jairus was among one of the people who wanted to see Jesus, and he had a desperate request. His daughter was dying and he longed for Jesus to come and heal her. Jesus agreed. There wasn’t a lot of hoopla surrounding his decision.
He didn’t draw attention to what was about to go down—posting it on Twitter with the hashtag #miracleontheway, or uploading a pic on Instagram with a really cool filter for effect.
We are simply told in Mark 5:24, “So Jesus went with him.”
As they journeyed to the place where Jairus’s beloved daughter lay dying, crowds pressed in all around Jesus. In the throng was a woman. The Bible says of her,
“She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, ‘If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.’ “(Mark 5:26–28)
And so she reached out to touch Jesus—she and multitudes of others who also were reaching for the Savior. But her simple, frantic touch didn’t escape His notice.
At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” “You see the people crowding against you,” His disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’” (Mark 5: 30–31)
Trembling, the woman admitted it was she. Jesus responded, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering” (Mark 5: 34).
This story has always fascinated me. The way Jesus took time—while in the middle of a crowd of people—to notice just one person and meet her need. The need of a seemingly insignificant person. She wasn’t important like the synagogue ruler Jairus. In fact, we aren’t even told her name. Yet she was not unimportant to Jesus.
Could we try to be more like Jesus, this perfect man who was never too busy to notice someone who needed His touch?
He could peek into the heart, respond with love, and then do it all over again the next time He encountered someone who simply needed to be seen.
Souls all around us every day are longing for someone to notice them. They may feel alone or ashamed. Afraid or apprehensive.
The simple act of noticing someone as they journey through life can lovingly mirror the behavior of God.
But in order to behave like Jesus did, and spread the healing balm of his love, we must be willing to drop our agenda—or at least put it on hold—to reach out and touch those who need it most.
Of course you and I aren’t Jesus—who knows our hearts entirely—but we can learn to show others Jesus when we intentionally listen for heart drops.
A heart drop is when a person, either directly or in a cryptic way, gives you a tiny glimpse into their heart.
It may be through actual words, or you may pick up on a feeling, perhaps sadness or loneliness.
Or maybe you sense anxiousness or worry in the tone of their voice when they bring up an upcoming medical test or job interview.
It could even be a simple preference or “like” of theirs, such as their most-loved high-maintenance coffee drink.
Hearing a heart drop is a way of listening between the lines, gaining a glimpse into another soul’s longings.
When we hear a heart drop, we can brush it aside and go on our busy way. Or, we can respond with an act of kindness.
It may be words of reassurance, a clever small gift, an act of service, or gift of your time. Even that complicated coffee drink delivered on a day when someone needs a reminder that they are seen and loved.
Hearing a heart drop is an art we can intentionally cultivate. It can lead to the most wonderful times of encouragement as we make it our habit to listen and to love.
Today we also have many demands calling for our attention.
Crowds of people and projects press in.
Whether at work or at home, we are often on our way to do something grand.
But Jesus is calling us to stop and notice. To live alert. To give a special touch that may heal a heart or cheer a weary soul.
Rather than trying to do something grand for God, let’s embrace the obscure instead, obeying when we feel the Holy Spirit tapping us on the heart, calling us to engage with another or to cheer and encourage.
I once heard it said that Jesus’ real ministry was the person He found standing in front of Him.
Who is that for you today?
There they are now. Come on, let’s be brave and live like Jesus.
Karen Ehman is a New York Times bestselling author, Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker, and writer for Encouragement for Today an online devotional that reaches over 4 million women daily. Married to her college sweetheart and mom of three, she resides in the boondocks of central Michigan where she enjoys cheering for the Detroit Tigers and processing life with the many teens and young adults that gather around her kitchen island for a taste of Mama Karen’s cooking.
Her latest book Listen, Love, Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World, is full of ideas for scattering kindness to family, friends, strangers, the “necessary people” who help you get life done—even the difficult people in life. (She shows how to hug a porcupine and squeeze a skunk!). Kinda an amazing book for this season: Listen, Love, Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World.
[ Our humble thanks to Zondervan and their partnership with today’s devotion ]