Matthew 7:13-14

Enter in through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many there are who go in through it. Because narrow is the gate and straight is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. ~ Matthew 7:13-14

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Journey To Hear The Listener

By Dennis Cole, August 1, 2012

Wendy and I have for several years attended a home group meeting at Marty and Leslie Fuentes’ house where we live in Albuquerque. Simply put we do prayer, fellowship, eat and have a bible study. Often times, as we did 2 weeks, ago it is a bible-doing. During prayer Marty was hearing my angst over recent travel and my on-going bouts with vertigo. He heard that I was to drive 733 miles on a Saturday deep into Texas heat to do a bible-acting presentation on Sunday am, and then drive home immediately after lunch on Sunday. Even for me this is not the norm, and especially after so much driving the day before it can be dangerous. I was not complaining to the group, {oh maybe I was}, I was explaining. We were about to begin a one week intensive Narrow Gate Theater School of Acting so driving home Monday would bring me home too late and too tired to lead people through acting ministry. Marty prayed last and said "Lord show us if there us a way we can help Dennis".......... Amen.

Marty by nature is a Vulcan. Well that is not quite right as he is human....but he is extremely intelligent and logic centered. He, like Star Trek’s Mr. Spock, is also from another world...only Marty’s world is "on earth as it is in heaven". Simply put, he talks like Spock, but acts like...well like the kindest person you can think of. He went upstairs and brought down his I pad and headset. He begins to show me how I can get the worship music that would pass my time and minimize stress. "This will help I want you to have this for Texas." Marty’s kindness was his answer to his own prayer....and to my anxiety and the necessary preparation for an intense week of acting intensive following the weekend of ministry and travel I was facing. I do not mean to sound like the acting school sessions are "heavy", but in order to be fun....that’s why they call it "play" needs the rest necessary for creativity to blossom. Somewhere "deep in the heart of Texas" at the midway point in the drive I knew we had a week for the actors. I could relax and enjoy the drive. This I pad technology with the headset is amazing. It was like Fernando Ortega was singing softly into my ear. I could hear the still small voice of God and was refreshed.

I got in late Sunday night/Monday morning at 3:40am and slept until 11am Monday. Sure I was groggy for a few body was in a kind of perpetual forward motion. Acting school began at 6:30pm and except for a rarity ...rain in Abq causing traffic and actor tardiness...we were ready. We had a plan, and after a few fun improvisational drills we got the "main course" of our acting food. We drew from a book by Taylor Caldwell called The Listener written in the 1950s. She was a gifted writer. Wendy and I, when we pastored in Southern Oregon in the years 1988 to 1994, would periodically take some time off on the Oregon coast. On one such occasion we found an old paperback of this book. We read one chapter. Wow! We then decided we would read each chapter aloud to each other and we finished the book that weekend. There are 15 stories. Each person has a need to visit The Listener. Some travel great distances because he listens....."very rare to be listened to." He never actually speaks accept for one line to one person. Nor is he seen until at the end of each person’s sharing i.e. when the curtain opens. As the story goes the curtain does not open for everyone, only the sincere. When it does he or she sees a different aspect of the Son of God; the aspect of Jesus that relates to what their conflict was in their "monologue". I remember when we read this back then we were gripped and moved to tears and found new hope because Jesus became so personal to us.

During the month of July I re-read the book. I was re-introduced to the powerful- personal insights the average person can have with the God who could be "everyman’s" God....if we allowed ourselves to come to where real need meets real hope. Often in worship we come to a "what can we do for God...or even what He has done....or what we should be like”......but rarely have I seen what I read in The Listener. The Listener, simply put, has been through worse and harder times than anyone in the world. When the speaker sees with his eyes that The Listener is Him, and for him or her, is suddenly the Real God.... the God he always believed now personal.  God comes to where we are... and that honest need facing what we do not want to face met by Him. The password to Him is let Him listen to you and He will let you listen to Him. See Him. Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.

We had 10 actors in the school. God gave me 4 brand new monologues to write and I adapted 6 from Taylor’s book. We had the most special time that you could imagine. When Wendy and I began the school our vision was a community of compassionate believers. The Greek word for mercy literally means inside skin. This is what actors need in order to play someone else. Bible acting...Jesus is the Word of God care, compassion, empathy, understanding and community. Through the Listener hearing our own hearts and we actors identifying with the hope and pain of those whom we played....we found a love for one another we did not have before the week began. The comments from the team of actors were reinforcing, uplifting to God and to one another.  We of course want to develop this script into a full play....screenplay? ....Why not!

There is more to this story, but not about our acting school. Driving home on Sunday in the Texas midday heat I heard of the Albuquerque heat from Wendy.  This is how I remember the conversation. Wendy to me...."Dennis the swamp cooler is completly shut down....looks like this is it for the swamp cooler".....”Wait I have a call coming in......Dennis its Marty {Mr. Spock, not the one from Vulcan, but from heaven}...."Marty called to say he has a plan to fix the swamp cooler".  Marty had no idea the swamp cooler had just shut down but somehow out of the blue he "saw" a plan to fix it. It was The Listener again, speaking and showing the way. Sometime later while I was still driving home with Marty fixing old "swampy" I spoke to Wendy, laughing with Leslie as clouds covered the intense summer heat on the roof of my house where they all were back home in ABQ. I was still 12 hours from home, but I was at home in my car ...resting and relaxing. I was listening to my favorite songs and sounds and planning without stress a wonderful week with my friends.

True acting is like true prayer. They both are transformational. Spiritually speaking, transformational living is like walking the earth without gravity. Living life beyond the social mores that confine relationships within "earthen vessels".

The Journey Through The Narrow Gate will always have an element of surprise. You may not always want to go on that day’s journey. If it’s always without conflict and never with probably is not the Narrow Gate journey either. Watch out for those wide gates and broad roads, the easy path that leads us to false hope and ultimate confusion. If you find yourself on this road consider The Listener.  He has a way of bringing blessed peace and clarity.  You will find Him probably in a less populated part of town perhaps an old street you used to walk that looks a little different today. He wants you to visit the old ways to make you new. If you feel yourself getting a little unsure, a kind of lost, do not panic. State your needs and fears, the One who listens.... He will listen. And show you.  Those who love you are those who listen to you, and those whom you listen to. …Come to The Listener via the Narrow Gate and let your heart open up.....begin again with the One Who Listens.

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