Carroll County Comet

Crock Pot, not Instant Pot

Lessons from the Heart



“Then he added, ‘Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be givenand you will receive even more.’” Mark 4:24

Jesus was talking to a crowd. The crowd was so big that he got into a boat, sat down, and spoke from there. He said those words after he shared a couple short stories that illustrate spiritual truths.

I find these words almost foreign these days, “Pay close attention…the closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given.” Jesus is saying in essence, “This is not a meme faith. This is not a faith of catch phrases and sound bites. My way isn’t about bumper stickers and billboards.”

This little phrase jumped out at me the other day because listening closely doesn’t seem like something we as a culture seem to be excelling at. And I include myself in that as well.

Even as a pastor, work moves fast; the week and my life moves fast. And it’s impossible for me to listen to people well, to love them well-staff, attenders, even my own family-when I’m allowing it all to pass by too fast.

“Pay close attention…the closer you listen, the more understanding you’ll be given.” Jesus shows us all through the gospels, with how he lived his life, that his Way is a slow, savoring dinner around a table. It’s an unhurried accompanied walk. It’s slowing to pay close attention: to God’s words, to the emotions in the eyes and on the face of the person you’re trying to understand.

Yet our pace is fast. And for parents, the days are long and the years are short. It was yesterday that my son and his wife brought their first child into this world. And today she went to kindergarten round up.

It’s a funny thing. We are consciously or subconsciously always looking for cheat codes for how life works. “What can I do to unlock the mysteries or ease my pain, or make a smoother way forward?” And Jesus gives us a life hack in this unobtrusive verse, but it will cost us something.

It will cost us because we are finite beings and that means we have only so much attention to give. And so when Jesus us tells us to pay close attention to his words, to The Word, that means not giving away undue attention to everything or lesser things.

To pay close attention is to practice the discipline of slowing down, crock-potting, not instant-potting God’s Word. And if we will, the more understanding we will be given and we’ll receive even more understanding, Jesus says. And if we practice slowing down to soak in and sip upon God’s word, that slowing and increased understanding will make us better listeners to the people we’re trying to love, and even to those people God brings freshly into our path.

Morgan Young is pastor at Northview Church, Flora.