• Richard Parrish

Slow Down To Hear



There’s an App that helps me read through the Bible in a year. I find it very helpful.


It allows me to read from my phone or iPad; or automatically assigns the day’s readings, offering me the option of going “old school” (to pick up the Bible tangibly), if I choose.


One practice I’m cultivating is to read slowly.


I admit, there are days I want to read as fast as I can to get through with the assigned readings.


My schedule shouts at me to hurry up. Or, the love of my pillow tempts me to re-set my alarm, giving me just 15-minutes more of sleep, which forces me to quicken my reading.


You may have heard other Christians say that the Bible is “alive.” What they are referring to is: Although the Bible was written years ago, it continues to speak today.


This ancient text, intended for an original audience with unique cultural differences, has essential meaning and application for those of us today. Because God’s Word is “alive,” there are no wasted or insignificant words.


However, those “begat passages,” — the ones that trace genealogies back to Noah or Adam with names you can’t pronounce, — can undoubtedly tempt one to sign up for a speed reading course!


And, if those passages are not enough, what about Leviticus?


But something happens when we slow down to read the Word of God.


Rather than us getting through the Word, God’s Word gets through to us!


Here’s a recent example…


Lately, I’ve been taken with how our society carelessly and callously uses words [see my blog: Healing Words]


It seems that speaking is more popular than listening. And, when people are not hearing, we think that shouting our message will somehow be more effective.


As I was carefully and slowly reading Jesus’ words in Luke’s gospel today, the words: “… pay attention to how you listen [1],” stopped me in my tracks.


“How do I listen? Why do I listen? Am I observant to how I listen?” All of these questions, and more surfaced within me.


It’s as if these words became highlighted — just for me. Like a blinking sign, they caught my attention; inviting me to come closer and scrutinize them. It’s as if they were speaking to me.


As I reflected on Jesus’ words to his disciples (his original audience), I asked myself: “What does it mean for me to pay attention to how I listen?”


Through the parable of the sower (Lk. 8:4-15) and the lamp (Lk. 8:16-17), Jesus reminds his disciples that — for various reasons — not everyone will follow him. But for them (and us), it’s imperative that we pay attention to how we listen.


Whether it’s reading the Bible or listening to others, slowing down helps us to hear with greater clarity and accuracy.


There’s more to people’s words than passion or opinions. Deep listening reveals what’s underneath, encourages discovery, and extends dignity to others.


Today, I’ve been reminded to pay attention to how I’m listening.


[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989), Lk 8:18.