Build a Listening Heart


The story of Noah’s Ark is a favorite with my young children. I do a rather dramatic reading from their children’s Bible (which has surprisingly mature content for a kid’s Bible—lots of death & gore that you can’t avoid?) and when I tell them about the animals going two-by-two, the fierce with the meek, they love to squeal in fright.

“Mama! Won’t the lion eat the deer??”

“Mama, how did the elephants fit??”

I reassure them much to their continued glee that God had a plan for each animal couple, and that they wouldn’t eat one another, despite the close quarters. And when I turn back to my own readings of the Bible, the more adult version, I contemplate these same questions. How did the animals make it? What did it smell like? How did they feed all of them? How did Noah really not care that he seemed insane?

If God came to me and told me to build an ark, I probably would have a litany of reasons why I’m a terrible carpenter, and the neighbors wouldn’t understand, and couldn’t He ask someone more . . . coastal? But the heart of the matter is, I really do not want to be asked to act outside my religious comfort zone. Ashes on Ash Wednesday, sure. Grace before meals in a restaurant making the sign of the cross? Sure, just don’t go all loud & proud on me. Listening to God’s call in my heart, but what if He asks me to do something really crazy that I don’t want to do?

I think about this when I’m praying about our family size. We have three. A nice, round, larger-size family according to many. We’d love to have more. But I’m not sure I wanna go crazy here.

What if we are really truly open to whatever God calls us to? Does this mean we could have an insane amount of children? How would I handle throwing up all throughout pregnancy with all of them, as I’m prone to? How would we pay for educational opportunities, activities, healthy food? How would I be able to emotionally care for and pay attention to and love them all?

Expanding outside my world of baby-thoughts, what is God telling me in my heart about my work? My motivations on why I am pursing what I’m doing? My relationships? Is it time to change careers? That’s scary. What about taking the next step in your relationship towards true sacrificial love in marriage? Even more terrifying.

Maybe Noah had to build an ark, but all of us are called to build a listening heart. Now I need to really truly ask God to lead my heart on my question, and actually listen.

What is God telling you in your heart you don’t want to hear?

photo credit

Nell O’Leary is an attorney turned stay-at-home mom to three lovelies. She and her husband live in the great city of Saint Paul. You can find out more about her here.

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