making space to listen…

It’s been a pretty amazing day. A friend we’ve known for a few years now came around this arvo, a changed man! I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing, as he poured out some of the big things he’d been going through, and how he was realising that he needed God in his life (among several other great realisations). His whole demeanour was different – humble, open, freer than we’d ever seen, talking about God in a real way (which was surprising enough!!).

It’s just another clear reminder to Chris and I that God is deeply involved in His world, bringing people towards Himself, rescuing them from the holes they’ve dug for themselves, and healing the deep wounds this world has dished out. This is what He is always doing.

We’ve been thinking a lot about prayer this year – reading Norman Grubb’s book: Rees Howells, Intercessor, has been quite influential in this. I think I’ve asked God to grow my prayer life every New Years for about the last 10 years or more. I think this year I might be beginning to see the answer to this particular prayer…

Maybe it’s because he’s finally got it through my thick head how much I need Him, how utterly incapable I am (in my own strength) of changing another person (or even myself…). Maybe I just needed lots of experiences of relative fruitlessness, so that I would finally think differently about my own adequacy… Not just “I should pray”, but “If i don’t pray, I’m a fool!”.

It’s not that I never prayed, don’t get me wrong… I have prayed over the years for people I’ve been involved with, for people I’m leading, for my kids & my husband. In all of this, God has been faithful. But something is different now. Now, I’m loving trying to learn to pray… I’m seeing how fruitful life can be when we make a priority of wrestling in prayer for people’s lives; and especially making time & space to listen to God about who to pray for & what to pray for them…

We are rank beginners in all this, but very happy to be starting on this adventure. We are getting amazed at how God is answering our prayers for people & situations. Maybe a big factor in this is the fact that we are setting aside time each week to listen to Him, and wait on Him, asking for His leading in our prayers. So He can show us what He is up to – and He’s so gracious that He invites us in on it, by putting it on our hearts to pray for! Is that how it works??? I don’t really know, but I do feel like I’m on the journey to learn.

We Cornerstoners are pretty great at running around doing things. We pour out our hearts & souls & strength to care for others, teach them, lead them, & help them grow. I’ve been doing this for lots of years now.

I just wonder if God is whispering to our movement (and to plenty of others in His kingdom), reminding us that we need to keep learning to live out what we teach about life in the Spirit – about what it really means to let Him be in the driver’s seat. A sheep dog on the loose can have a lot of fun in a paddock, running itself ragged – I just heard today about a friend’s pet sheepdog who busies himself all day, rounding up their pet chooks! But how different is it when the farmer is there, calling out the orders?! Suddenly there’s a very clear ‘method in the madness’, the frantic scurrying turns into direct dashes effecting excellent results in the paddock, as the dog becomes the outworking of the farmer’s intention.

I want to work smarter, not harder. I want to get a whole lot better at listening to my master, so that my action can actually be the outworking of His intention. I want to be sharing my life with the vine, bearing much fruit. I don’t want to be so busy running around doing what I think needs to be doing, that I’m unable to hear the call of the One who can actually bring life & love & healing to those around me.


4 thoughts on “making space to listen…

  1. Nerida, some rich pickings here! Thanks for bottling what you guys have been learning and wrestling with, but also the honest context of reflecting on years of working hard at mission and discipleship, with integrity and passion. I find the main things do so often come back to listening to the Good Shepherd… and I can honestly say I have never regretted doing so, despite the road being narrow and often hard (when I choose to listen and obey, and don’t stubbornly or foolishly ‘lean on my own understanding’ – Proverbs 3:5,6). I loved your analogy of the sheep dog… reminds me of Psalm 127…
    If God doesn’t build the house, the builders only build shacks.
    If God doesn’t guard the city,
    the night watchman might as well nap.
    It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late,
    and work your worried fingers to the bone.
    Don’t you know he enjoys
    giving rest to those he loves? (The Message)

    Love and much respect to you and Chris, Warwick

  2. Hey Nel, so good to read what you say about prayer…been on the same journey for the past year or so and reading stuff by Graham Cooke especially his book Crafted Prayer. Same kind of message and so powerful. Love your analogy of the sheep dog – really spot on! Looking forward to a visit to Canowindra soon and catching up in person. Miss you heaps and as always covet your prayers. Love more than all the paddocks in the outback, Shani

  3. So true Nerida, you express this beautifully. It reminds me of the Mary and Martha story. I was a “doer” until I became unwell and can do little more than “be” sometimes. And it has brought me such gifts if I but choose to see them and more depth and intimacy to my relationship with God. Maybe that was the plan! But we shouldn’t wait until there is no place else to turn but Him. We should be intentional about seeking this divine communion at all times – I know this now.

    • thanks Michelle for your comment, it’s such a hard road you’ve had to walk, but I’m glad for the riches that have come along the way. I am so glad that God is willing and able to take the worst that can happen to us and ‘re-create’ in it, bringing about His wonders of insight, peace & presence.

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