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Listening or lamenting?

By David Brandt Berg, written November 1974
Samuel listening to God.
Samuel listening to God.

I had a dream that a group of us were staying in a French home. You and I had a bedroom way upstairs in this third or fourth floor garret and we were sleeping with a beautiful girl who seemed to be very, very much in love with me.

WE CAME DOWN TO BREAKFAST and her father and mother and brothers and sisters and some of our own young people were all gathered 'round the table for breakfast. There were at least a dozen or 15 of us there altogether, like a nice little Home.

THE MOTHER and FATHER WERE BEING VERY KIND and HOSPITABLE TO US. The mother had fixed us a good breakfast and the father made a good fire to warm the big room we were eating in, and they were more or less trying their best to be very good to us. Everybody seemed to be happy and having a good fellowship and enjoying it. We had a real good breakfast and everybody was talking and laughing and praising the Lord like we always do.

THEN AT THE CLOSE OF THE MEAL I ASKED IF THERE WAS A BIBLE HANDY. I said, "It's our custom in our Family to have a little time of devotion or Bible study and read a Chapter out of the Bible or a Psalm or Proverb and have a little prayer before we go about our various duties."

SO THE MOTHER OF THE HOME FOUND A SMALL NEW TESTAMENT, and EVERYBODY STOPPED FOR A MOMENT and STARTED LISTENING. I suggested that we take turns reading the verses around the circle, each one reading a verse, as we used to do even when the children were small, in order to hold everybody's attention.

BUT PRETTY SOON OUR OWN KIDS BEGAN TO GET A LITTLE BORED WITH THE READING, SINCE IT WASN'T IN THEIR LANGUAGE, and BEGAN TO DRIFT OUT OF THE ROOM INTO ANOTHER ROOM WHERE THEY WERE WATCHING TV, and I could hear the TV blaring away, almost drowning out the Bible reading. I was very embarrassed that our OWN KIDS didn't have enough respect to SIT there and LISTEN!

FINALLY I INTERRUPTED OUR HOSTESS and I CALLED OUR OWN KIDS BACK IN AGAIN. I tried not to be dictatorial, but tried instead to firmly invite them, except they knew if they DIDN'T obey voluntarily they'd have to reckon with me later!

SO THEY STRAGGLED IN RELUCTANTLY 'CAUSE THEY'D GOTTEN REAL INTERESTED IN SOME GOOD TV SHOW, and they sat down grumblingly, muttering under their breath, "Such a good show!--Why do we have to come back in HERE?" Of course this is all very symbolic: They got so interested in TV they didn't have time for the BIBLE!

WHEN OUR OWN KIDS HAD WALKED OUT, THE NEW KIDS SEEMED RATHER DISMAYED BECAUSE THEY THEMSELVES REALLY WERE HUNGRY and WANTED TO HEAR. So, they were happy to see them return, and we began reading again in English. But we hadn't been reading long when, of all things, our own kids began to sneak out and watch TV again! Well, I was so ashamed and embarrassed about our own kids setting such a bad example!

FINALLY ONE OF OUR OWN LEADERS APOLOGISED AS HE WENT OUT, SAYING, "I'M SORRY, DAD!--BUT IT'S SUCH A GOOD SHOW we just HATE to miss it! Please forgive us, but we've just GOT to see this show through!" So pretty soon, sure enough, all our own kids were out watching TV again!

BY THIS TIME THE MOTHER and FATHER WERE GETTING A LITTLE RESTLESS THEMSELVES and ANXIOUS TO BE ABOUT THEIR OWN WORK. So the mother stopped reading and went ahead clearing the table while we were reading, and I could hear her and some of the girls in the kitchen washing dishes. The father too had disappeared to get ready for work.

AT LAST I WAS LEFT SITTING THERE WITH NO ONE BUT YOU and one or two others of the young folks of the foreign family! They were all looking rather sad and disillusioned, for they seemed really hungry and wanted to have the Bible study, but were really disappointed that even our own kids weren't interested!

WE COULD HEAAT LAST I WAS LEFT SITTING THERE WITH NO ONE BUT YOU and one or two others of the young folks of the foreign family! They were all looking rather sad and disillusioned, for they seemed really hungry and wanted to have the Bible study, but were really disappointed that even our own kids weren't interested!R THE TV IN THE NEXT ROOM BLARING AWAY and OUR OWN KIDS WERE LAUGHING and NOISY. I became so angry finally that I got up, slammed the Bible shut and said so loudly that everybody in the house could hear me:

"ALL RIGHT!--I'M THROUGH!--IF YOU'RE NOT WILLING TO LISTEN TO GOD, THEN GOD'S NOT GOING TO LISTEN TO YOU! He's not going to speak to you any more until you're ready to LISTEN!" I just gave up and stomped out of the room and walked back upstairs.

I WAS TERRIBLY DISAPPOINTED IN OUR OWN KIDS THAT THEY WOULD WALK OUT ON THE WORD just because they were so interested in this TV show! I thought, "What a terribly poor example to these new kids!"

BUT ODDLY ENOUGH, YOU and THE NEW KIDS FOLLOWED ME ON UPSTAIRS!--That must be symbolic too: It was like even though our own kids had disappointed them, the new kids still wanted to hear the Words and follow and were hungry and even more sincere and serious and sober about it than our own kids! They apparently felt they really needed it!

THE UPSTAIRS "UPPER ROOM" IS SIGNIFICANT and USUALLY SYMBOLISES INTIMATE FELLOWSHIP WITH THE LORD in prayer and devotion and meditation, the secret place for Bible study and prayer, the "closet".--Mat.6:6. So just this little handful of us went way back upstairs to this garret bedroom apparently to continue this Bible study with the Lord.

I COULD UNDERSTAND THE PARENTS and FORGIVE THEM FOR FEELING THEY HAD TO GO BACK TO THEIR WORK. They HAD listened respectfully for a FEW minutes. But if I couldn't even get the attention of my OWN kids, what could you expect from these parents and strangers? So they had slipped quietly out and seemed pleased at least that I was holding the attention of their OWN children.

BUT I WAS VERY, VERY ANGRY WITH OUR KIDS! They seemed to have NO RESPECT for our HOSTESS or for the BIBLE reading. But WORST of all, the fact that they so quickly lost interest and went back to their TV show made me just FURIOUS!

IT SHOWED THAT OUR KIDS WERE MORE INTERESTED IN THE TV SHOW THAN THE WORD! But I was really pleased that the new kids were so serious, sober and even desperate and hungry that they didn't want to leave me for a moment! Even though they were really disappointed in OUR kids, the new kids were still so HUNGRY for the WORD that they FOLLOWED me and didn't want to leave my side, just clinging to EVERY WORD! This one family symbolised the family of God who DID respond. But our OWN young people had lost interest and were more interested in the TV!

THE THING THAT REALLY WOKE ME UP WAS THAT I WAS YELLING SO LOUD from upstairs when they said, "Dad, if you'll just come back DOWN we'll LISTEN!--We're sorry!" I just yelled back down at them loudly and angrily, "Nothing doing!"

"

GOTHE THING THAT REALLY WOKE ME UP WAS THAT I WAS YELLING SO LOUD from upstairs when they said, "Dad, if you'll just come back DOWN we'll LISTEN!--We're sorry!" I just yelled back down at them loudly and angrily, "Nothing doing!"D'S FINISHED TALKING TO YOU! HE'S NOT GOING TO SPEAK TO YOU ANY MORE UNTIL YOU'RE READY TO LISTEN!--And furthermore, He's not even going to LISTEN to you until YOU'RE ready to listen to HIM!" It must be that apparently they're so interested in other things that they haven't got much time for the Word!

IN THE DREAM ONE OF THE MEN LEADERS SAID, "DAD, WE'RE SORRY!"--And I said, "When you're crying out to HIM for help, He's not going to help YOU!" It was like I symbolised the Lord: That I wasn't going to come back down or listen to them or heed their pleas for help because I knew that they didn't seem to want to listen very much.

THE NEW KIDS FOLLOWED ME UPSTAIRS IN WONDER, ALMOST LIKE THEY DIDN'T UNDERSTAND WHY OUR OWN KIDS WERE NOT WILLING TO LISTEN! But it was all new and wonderful to them. They were wonderingly, awesomely wide-eyed following me upstairs to the quiet bedroom.

THAT BEDROOM IS SIGNIFICANT, THE PLACE FOR THOSE WHO REALLY WANT THE INTIMATE FELLOWSHIP, those who really want to go to BED with me SPIRITUALLY! All these things are PHYSICAL SYMBOLISMS of the SPIRITUAL REALITIES: SOME want to be ALONE and in LOVE with me and the Lord's Words in SPITE of the failures of the OTHERS and the poor example of our own young people! It's amazing!--It doesn't seem to take long:

APPARENTLY SOME OF OUR OWN KIDS ARE ALREADY BECOMING LIKE ISRAEL OR THE CHURCHES! "Familiarity breeds contempt", and they've had so MUCH, they're so FULL they're GLUTTED and they don't even really APPRECIATE the Lord's Words any more.

THE AWFUL FEELING I HAD AT THE END WAS A TERRIBLE FEELING OF WARNING, LIKE THE JUDGEMENTS OF GOD WERE GOING TO FALL on the kids for their WANING interest in the WORD and their GROWING interest in other things instead!--So that when they cried for HELP under the rod of the Lord's CHASTISEMENTS then HE wasn't going to listen to THEM! He was really going to sock it to them! He was just going to let them suffer for their sin--their REAL sin of not being willing to listen to HIM!

IF THEY WANTED TO FOLLOW HIM, THEN ALL RIGHT, THEY COULD! They could go upstairs to the quiet place. But He wasn't going to go chasing THEM around trying to beat them over the head with a Bible to get them to listen! But the hungry and thirsty ones, the real sober and sincere and needy and desperate ones--desperate for the Word--those who couldn't live without it--followed even when our own kids wouldn't!

I FELT GOD WAS REALLY GOING TO JUDGE OUR KIDS FOR THEIR TERRIBLE EXAMPLE and their disinterest in His Word and being more interested in ENTERTAINMENT than ENTERING INTO the WORD, more interested in ATTAINMENTS in the entertainment of the World, instead of the ENTERING IN of the WORD!

WHEN YOU START GIVING THE TOOL MORE OF YOUR TIME and WORSHIPPING THE CREATION MORE THAN THE CREATOR, THEN GOD REALLY BECOMES FURIOUS! When you've forgotten what He gave it to you FOR and you've forgotten Him and His WORD, which are most important of ALL, He's apt to turn right around and take it AWAY from you! He'll DESTROY it, when it was INTENDED to be USED for a GOOD USE, because you began to fall down and WORSHIP it like an IDOL!--It's become your god because you're putting this other thing first, whatever it is, instead of HIM and His WORD!

BECAUSE YOU HAD DESERTED THE LORD, HE WAS GOING TO TURN AROUND and DESERT YOU for a little while, too, and let you suffer for it!

IT'S JUST LIKE THE LORD HIMSELF DESERTS THE CHURCH WHEN SHE NEGLECTS and DESERTS HIM!--He finally gets sick and fed up with her and deserts her even when she's yelling for help! He lets her SUFFER for awhile for her sins of neglect and disinterest and desertion!

SO DON'T BE SURPRISED WHEN THE LORD SEEMS TO NEGLECT and DESERT YOU and DOESN'T LISTEN TO YOUR WORDS: You've probably neglected and deserted Him and refused to listen to Him!--And after people have refused to listen for a long time, the Lord doesn't always inform them in ADVANCE what He's going to do NEXT, because He figures if after THAT long a time of neglecting to listen, they won't listen NOW either!

SO LET THE LISTENERS BEWARE EVERYWHERE THAT THE SAME THING DOESN'T HAPPEN TO YOU! Those who ARE LISTENING WILL BE AWARE of what's happening and they WILL listen and they will FOLLOW, thank God! But those who AREN'T listening won't even know there is anything wrong until their World begins to crumble around their EARS that won't LISTEN!

ARE YOU LISTENING?--OR ALREADY LAMENTING? I hate to hear these non-listeners' laments! They really make me sick as they must make GOD sick because of their INDIFFERENCE and LUKEWARMNESS and lack of real INTEREST in His Word and failure to LISTEN to what they needed to do and when it would have done some GOOD before it was TOO LATE!

"STOP, LOOK and LISTEN!"--BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE and YOU'RE ONLY LEFT WITH LAMENTS!--Which are you?--A LISTENER or a LAMENTER?--Or which WILL you be? God have mercy on you and help you to LISTEN before it is too LATE and you're left with nothing but LAMENTS!

THE TROUBLE WITH MOST LAMENTERS IS THEY HAVEN'T LISTENED FOR SO LONG they don't even realise they're not listening anymore! Just like the Lord said in His last message to Israel before He shut up for 300 YEARS and REFUSED to TALK to them any more! He was quoting THEM, saying, "You say to Me, 'WHEREIN have we done these things?--WHEREIN have we robbed Thee?'" And He says, "Were they ASHAMED?--NAY, they could not even BLUSH!" The Lord said, "Their EARS are so DEAF they cannot HEAR; their EYES so BLIND they cannot SEE; their HEARTS so HARDENED they cannot UNDERSTAND!"--Mal.3:7-9; Jer.6:15; Mat.13:15.

I THINK SOME OF THE SADDEST WORDS IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE were found written all over the cell walls of a criminal who was executed for his crimes!--They found that he'd spent his time while waiting for execution writing the words all over his cell walls: "If I ONLY HAD! If I ONLY HAD! If I ONLY HAD!"--If he only had WHAT?--If he had only LISTENED!--To GOD'S VOICE or his CONSCIENCE or the WARNINGS of his PARENTS or PREACHERS or TEACHERS or LEADERS?

ARE THOSE GOING TO BE YOUR FAMOUS LAST WORDS!--"IF I ONLY HAD!"?--If I only had listened?--If I only had LISTENED I wouldn't now be LAMENTING! "If I ONLY HAD!" HAD you LISTENED you wouldn't have LAMENTED, "If I ONLY HAD!" Are you listening?--Or lamenting: "If I only had!"?


Request
James Arendt
James Arendt

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