… And God Listened

I’m certain this only ever happens to me, but more than once in the past 25 years my dear spouse has said, “You’re hearing me, but you’re not listening.” Most guys don’t distinguish between the two words, so I’ve made the matter worse before by cocking my head and looking like someone just said “fahrvergnügen” to a dog. This usually brings a brush of the hand, a huff, and a cold supper.

Like any guy who likes a hot, on-time supper, I did some research to understand what Ms. Diane meant. What I learned is that hearing and listening are indeed different. Described by Dr. Kelly Workman, PsyD at Columbia University, “Hearing is the passive intake of sound, while listening is the act of working intentionally to comprehend the sounds you hear.” That made sense to me. Our brains receive auditory sensory inputs all the time. However, we ignore much of what we hear unless we choose to actively listen.

When I remember to put my hearing aids in, I hear pretty well. I don’t always listen. Ms. Diane insists I have selective hearing, which means she thinks I purposely tune her out. Certain that’s not the case, I’m not sure I’ll ever convince her of that. I’ve tried explaining that because I’m such a deep thinker, my thoughts are using up my limited brain power and I don’t have enough left to listen actively. She’s not bought it yet, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Last week, while filling the water troughs in the barn as I prepared for another night with temperatures below freezing, reminded me of this. Cattle enjoy cool weather, and I’ve read they are most comfortable environmentally when the temperature is around 40F. However, freezing temperatures (in the teens and 20s) can affect cattle negatively; especially poorly conditioned livestock or young calves. Even though my herd is in great shape (BCS 7/8), I still do things to protect them when rare, frigid temperatures find their way to east Texas. By feeding them extra hay near dusk, I keep their internal furnace stoked (their ruminant stomach working) overnight. This natural body heat keeps them most comfortable during wintry nights. Allowing them access to the enclosed barn, with extra hay on the ground as insulation, gets them out of the icy winds and helps them and their calves stay warmer.

I also fill several large tubs, holding 40-50 gallons each, with fresh water. Being inside the barn prevents the water from freezing (at least as solidly as it would outside). It also gives the cattle the ability to drink without going outside in the elements. As is often the case when I’m doing chores around here, God and I carry on a conversation. Many of you call it prayer.

Prayer is best described as a conversation between Father and child. Click To Tweet

God listens to His children who walk with Him in faith (John 9:31), and knowing that He is always there when I call out in prayer is most comforting. I’m almost always talking to Ms. Diane as I walk into her office/craft room, and often, I find I’m talking to myself because she’s not there. When that happens, I either call out for her or wander through the house until I find her.

While filling the water, I’m asking God to watch over my little ranch and all the animals He’s entrusted to me during this cold night. I ask Him to keep the livestock safe, to protect the water pipes, and direct the predators elsewhere so all can sleep peacefully and comfortably this night. It’s not uncommon to feel a sense of peace welling up inside me when I pray, as I like to think it’s God’s way of assuring me He’s listening. On this evening, He communicated with me using something more tangible.

As I prayed, I heard a commotion in the feedlot. Taking a step to my left, I could peer out the barn door and investigate. Looking outside, God took my breath away as three doves landed on the separating fence near the barn. I watched as each one took up a watch position. One faced toward my north pasture, where my pregnant cows and calves are. One faced west where Mavric my bull, the steers, and heifers are grazing, and the other peered into the barn. My heart instantly knew that God had listened and sent me a visible sign to say, “I’ve got this.”

As often happens whenever God gives me a “heart hug”, a tear formed and the powerful warmth of God’s presence enveloped my soul. The tangible, immediate answer to my prayer reassured me I am walking in God’s will. I recognize I am far from perfect, but willing to listen to His guidance and direction in my life. He reminded me that He doesn’t expect me to be perfect, but surrendered.

We don’t have to be perfect for God to hear us; but He only listens to those who listen to Him. Click To Tweet

We know God hears us when we cry out in prayer. We know He listens when we are in a right relationship with Him. It is in His active listening that God acts according to His will. When our prayers align with His will, amazing things can happen. Three mourning doves showing up to watch over your herd through a long, cold winter’s night is an example of that I’ll cherish for many years to come.

God’s blessings,

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54 thoughts on “… And God Listened

  1. Another good one. It’s great you could snap a picture to share the moment with us. There is nothing – nothing that compares to those spiritual snapshots of his presence that the Lord impresses upon us. “Heart hugs” as you call them. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you Ms. Dottie. I didn’t get them as they repositioned themselves (as though they were going to stand watch through the night), but it was so cool to see them. We don’t see too many doves around these parts at this time of the year, so it was real surprise to me.

    1. I’m glad Ms. Debbie; I suspect my Ms. Diane will chuckle also when she reads this. LOL So glad you enjoyed the post and what it was wrapped in. The older I get, the more I’m convinced that God loves to laugh; and I’m pretty sure that’s why He made me.

  2. OK, go on and admit it. You’ve been spying on my Diane and me and collecting data for this post. If you weren’t, then it’s downright spooky how much it sounds like us. The only thing different is that I didn’t come up with that excellent explanation that there’s so much going on in my head that only so much of what she says can get processed at a time. I’ll probably get a chance to run that one up the flagpole later today. But the thing that really sticks in this encouraging piece is the affirmation that our Father gave you that He’s not only there, but that He’s listening. Few things fill me with hope more than those moments when He chooses to reinforce my sometimes wavering faith by letting me know that He hears me, and that He’s involved and engaged in the things that burden my heart and challenge my resources. Thank you again, my friend, for blessing my morning with this dose of encouragement. It’s uncharacteristically frigid here in Tennessee, too, but I don’t have others depending on my to keep them safe. Thank you for another great piece, Brother, and for displaying another inspirational glimpse into the heart of God through life around the Cross-Dubya.

    1. 😀 Let me know please how well that works out for you Mr. Ron. I’ll keep pitching, but so far my Ms. Diane is waving them off and not swinging. It isn’t often that I get an instant validation that He’s heard my prayers, and even more rare to receive a visual or audible verification, so those doves sure did bring a smile. To know that God hears, and that He is indeed listening is quite mind-easing; as it shows me that I am at least somewhat in His will. Thank you so much for your sage comments my friend. God’s blessings.

  3. Well, that’s three of us who communicate with our wives the same way. I’ve explained to my wife and any others I meet to throw something at me to get my attention. Otherwise I pay no attention to spoken words because I only understand 35-40% of what’s said. The rest is in context or lip formation.

    Tell me something from another room spontaneously and it’ll be like talking to that wall that separates us.

    But God…

    Good one, J.D.

    1. Absolutely Ms. Dottie. I’m convinced they’ve become an addiction for me; because if I go too long without one, I start having withdrawal symptoms. 🙂 God always delivers doesn’t He my friend?

  4. Indeed, J. D., when our will aligns with His, God can make the extraordinary happen in our otherwise ordinary lives. He does listen to the prayers of our hearts, and we should try to listen truly to those around us, not simply be content with hearing alone. May God continue to look out for and protect your precious herds!
    Blessings!

  5. I have a difficult time believing you aren’t a good listener, but I love your example. And what a tangible representation of His care and protection our Father prepared for you!

    Peace and grace,
    Tammy

    1. Thank you Ms. Tammy. While I like to think I am indeed a good listener; I often actively listen, I repeat what I’ve heard to ensure understanding, and I act upon what I’ve listened to (when appropriate), I also realize I get distracted from time-to-time. Unlike God, I can’t be omnipresent and this life can sure be distracting sometimes. If I’m focused on a farming issue, ranch planning, working with a client, or writing a devotion, book chapter, query letter, etc., and someone speaks to me, I may or may not respond appropriately. If I sense it’s important, I’ll need a few moments to reprioritize my thoughts and transition my focus upon the person speaking. Too often, and I’m as guilty as anyone of this, I think whatever I need to say should be the most important thing the other person hears this day and it demands my immediate attention. One of our many human frailties is that we don’t work that way. I think myself more like my donkeys. Not that I’m slow-minded because I’m stupid, but because it takes me a little more time to consider all the inputs and prioritize. Man or woman, I suspect we are all guilty of non-listening from time to time. Not because the other person isn’t important, but because they haven’t given us time to transition into “listening mode.” I hope that makes sense. And also, I’m sure glad God is both omnipresent and omniscient. He can be with all people, and He knows all things, all at the same time; which is precisely why He is God and I’m not. LOL And thank you for your kind words ma’am. It was indeed a very special moment with God.

  6. Your story gave me goosebumps as I read about the dove. What a blessing from God. Thank you for sharing so we could enjoy it with you.

    1. I had much the same reaction Ms. Yvonne. Seeing doves is fairly common in our part of the world. Seeing them in a pack of three, and in the dead of winter, was very rare indeed ma’am. A special gift from God.

  7. There’s so much to consider on a farm–especially in the cold. God is constantly watching over us to help us deal with the gifts He’s entrusted to us. Great post, JD. God bless!

    1. Isn’t that the great thing about stewardship Ms. Nancy? God not only blesses us by entrusting land, animals, people, talents, and many other blessings to us; He also helps us to steward (manage) them successfully so we bring Him glory.

  8. “He doesn’t expect me to be perfect, just surrendered.” Oh, what comforting words, my friend. I’m so grateful for our Father’s mercy because I’m so far from perfect. Thank you for this inspiring message. My heart is warmed by your faith and I got a great laugh out of your description of your non-listening skills. I’m definitely in Ms. Diane’s corner, having experienced the same situation many times. Wishing you both much joy.

    1. I’m so very glad you enjoyed the post Ms. Katherine. I thought many of us could appreciate those “non-listening” episodes that happen now and again. As for understanding that God doesn’t expect perfection, but effort, from us sure did make my relationship with Him blossom. When I was able to release myself from the misguided idea that I had to be perfect all the time, it allowed me to more easily accept the grace God was giving me all the time. If God doesn’t expect me to be perfect (in fact, He already knows where I am going to fail Him tomorrow), and He still loves me and wants to help me grow in Him, then who am I to think more highly of myself than God thinks of me? That makes walking with God a reality, rather than trying to be God, which we both know will never happen.

    1. Awww shucks. Thank you Ms. Joyce. Wish you and Ms. Jan could one day come visit and enjoy the peace and rest found here. Our Cross-Dubya is a blessed place indeed my friend. I thank God for leading my family here each day.

  9. Looking over more than 5 decades of following God, I can see how the Holy Spirit guided me from only praying during my quiet time, to an almost-constant abiding attention on God.

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom, J.D.

    1. Yes! Amen Ms. Kathy! That’s it exactly ma’am. Our prayer life should not only be a set-aside, predetermined time in which we set everything else in our life aside and focus solely on God. It should be a conversation that we have all the time. We should endeavor to “Do Life” with God! Well said ma’am. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t make time each day to humbly and solemnly approach God’s throne with all reverence and fear, as I think that focused prayer time is important to us all. It’s when we bring our petitions for others (intercessory prayer) before heaven. With that said, it’s when I share funny moments and thoughts, or a brief praise the instant a blessing arrives, and praise for His presence in my life that I am most filled with the oil of gladness (joy). It’s also those spontaneous moments when my fears and worries are shared with Abba, that He caresses my heart and reminds me that He’s right there with me through it all. I know you understand sweet friend. God’s blessings; and thank you (and praise God) for the good health news this week. Celebrating with you and Mr. Larry ma’am.

  10. What a wonderful thing for God to do – give you three doves to remind you He is watching over you and your farm! Beautiful post!

    1. Thank you ma’am; and the same to you and your family. While I’ve always enjoyed seeing a dove (usually a pair of doves) sitting atop the fence outside my window or as I drive around the ranch, I’m not sure that I’ll ever see them quite the same again after this.

    1. Nice to know I, nor Ms. Diane, are alone in this Ms. Candyce. And yes, isn’t knowing that God listens to His children a most comforting thought? Sometimes we can feel so alone in this world, even in a crowd.

  11. Love this! God speaks to us in nature, through all our senses! so humbling and comforting! Sending our hugs and prayers❤️! We are sharing some similar weather and Many Conversations with our Dear Lord❤️Asking for His dear grace to be faithful listeners!

    1. Aww; thank you Ms. Kim. I know it’s cold and icy up in your area, but I hope you can get out to take Camo and Emme for a walk in a quiet park district soon and just let yourself get lost in God’s glorious nature real soon ma’am. Praying daily for your family ma’am. Kansas huh? It’ll never be the same.

    1. Amen. Thank you Ms. Melissa. If we would only do that more often, in our homes, our workplace, our churches, I suspect we would make a much larger impact upon this world my friend. God’s blessings.

  12. I loved the 3 doves landing on your fence. Love when we can see and hear Gods answers to our prayers and how even the smallest of things in our lives matters to God as much as our big requests do. I love reading about your soft heart as well JD.

    1. Thank you Ms. Teresa. Your words help me to see just how far God has brought me along this journey with Him. Sometimes, I can get down on myself after I mess up (more often than I would like), but your kind words remind me of how important it is to give myself grace by accepting God’s. Thank you gentle friend, I am truly blessed by you ma’am.

  13. Great story, J.D. I especially love the part about the three doves. Isn’t that just like our Father–sending you a representation of the Holy Trinity— Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? That is definitely a sign from heaven to you! God is watching over you and your animals. P.S. I’m certain you must be a good listener. God definitely has your ear, my brother. Blessings and prayers for a mild winter. 🙂

    1. Thank you Ms. Karen. You’re the second person to call this little gathering a visit by a “trinity of doves.” I honestly never considered that until you and my friend Mr. Kenn shared the thought with me. The doves may not have been there to watch over north and west pastures and the barn, but to merely say “We’re all listening to you J.D., and we’re all here with you.” Love that thought ma’am. Thank you!

  14. Enjoyed your story, J.D. I admit, I often accuse my husband of selective listening. Guess we all can do it at times. I pray to be more in tune to what those around me are saying. And so thankful for the listening ear and heart of my heavenly Father.

    1. Thank you so much for commenting Ms. Karen. You and me both appreciate what a patient listener our God is ma’am. And Mr. Mike? I’m certain that like me, his mind is so preoccupied with everything that sometimes there’s just not any listening space available. Give us a moment though, and we’ll reprioritize and listen attentively. 🙂

    1. Thank you Ms. Kathy. I love it when God shows up like that; in an almost instantaneous answer to prayer. I stopped to wonder, how far they God direct these three to travel and how long did it take them to arrive at that exact spot and that exact time? I’m always in awe of how He knows our prayers before we even pray them, and in times like these, He sends the answer before we even ask. Such an awesome God we serve sweet friend.

    1. Not sure really what I did Ms. Cathy, but I pray it is sharing a “heart hug” or other blessing with you ma’am. Thank you so much for all your encouragement. God’s blessings little lady.

  15. I’m sorry I’m so late in reading and responding. Always busy. I gotta say, this touched my heart. I got chills all over and not from the frigid temps. What a beautiful, heart-warming response to your prayer. I lay awake the other night crying for your livestock and other’s as winter plays out its relentless days. I confess I wish that winter lasted about a week and was over.
    I am just so moved by how God revealed Himself on your ranch at the time He did. Such a vivid and tangible reminder of how God hears our prayers . . . and answers. I’m so glad I can go to bed now knowing your cattle and other’s are being watched. (I knew it before, but we humans like signs!)
    Hey, looks like you answered my Facebook question, too, about the extra feed.

    1. Me too Ms. LuAnn. There’s been times in my life when I’ve either not heard/seen God’s answer (because I wasn’t attuned to looking for/hearing it), and have even asked, “God, aren’t you listening?” in the past. In reality, I can see that it was me who wasn’t listening. God won’t respond when we’re living in unrepented sin. And while I still sin (I think we all do, whether we intend to or not), I try and come clean with God (1 John 1:9) each evening. Have learned there’s no promise of waking up tomorrow morning. Repentance is not best served cold. God’s blessings ma’am.

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