Worth the Effort
"The purposes of a person's heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out." Proverbs 20:5 (NIV)
There are two kinds of young women who live in my house. One speaks her mind freely; you don't have to guess where she stands or how she feels. The other is more reserved, holding her emotions and words in check.
Neither one is right or wrong. Both are deep thinkers and deep feelers. Yet my girls couldn't be more different when it comes to how their thoughts and emotions are expressed. With one, I have a sense of her constant pulse as she daily shares her joys and struggles. With the other... well, as my mother used to say about my father, "Still waters run deep."
The writer of Proverbs 20:5 encourages us to make the effort to "draw out" people. As I have found with my daughter, there is much beauty and young wisdom in the deep well of her heart. And while it takes extra work to tap into that low-lying spring, it is often rewarded.
In a culture where our conversations are often capped at 140 characters on Twitter or summed up in 2-3 sentences on Facebook or text messaging, real conversation may be in jeopardy. The days of front porches and Sunday dinners seem to be all but gone. Yet God's Word tells us a person's heart is deep waters-not something simple and concise that can be summed up short and sweet.
Whether it is with our daughters, neighbors or girlfriends, we need unhurried moments to draw from each other's hearts. We need time to listen to the wisdom and work God is accomplishing in another's life. These types of conversations usually don't develop in a quick greeting of "How are you?" as we're moving from one task to another. But more often, they are in the intentional moments when we purpose to listen.
In the original Hebrew language of the Old Testament, "purposes" in this verse means advice, counsel, and plans. Many times, when we take time to listen, we can discover plans our friend has tucked away in her heart. Sometimes it will mean realizing her hidden hope of visiting prisoners and sharing the Gospel with them. Or you might discover your child is reading the Bible on her own as she shares a verse she found.
Drawing out others or engaging in purposeful conversation also helps us gain insight, wisdom, hope and encouragement when we listen to all God is doing in their heart. We can receive advice and counsel simply by listening to one of His children.
Stop right now and look at your calendar. Pick a time—tonight, tomorrow or this weekend, and invite someone dear to you to spend time together. Whether it is your daughter whose life spins in and out of your home, or that girlfriend you haven't had coffee with in months, be intentional. Send her a text, give her a call, just make sure to make time. And to listen to the deep waters of her heart.
Jesus, help me to slow down today, and listen. I need to be present in the present and intentional in investing in others by listening. Make me one who draws others out. Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
When was the last time you had a heart-to-heart with someone you love? How can you be more purposeful and make this a habit?
Think back to a time someone asked you to share what God was doing in your life. How did that make you feel? Excited, joyful, loved?
Proverbs 18:4, "The words of the mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream." (NIV)
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