Listening…and Snorting!

by Lt. Colonel Raymond Peacock – 

Thanks, Major Chick Yuill, for Yuillogistically Speaking and reminding us in your article found in the February 12, 1999 issue of New Frontier that we need to both look and listen. The Major said, “We need vision; that will change the Army. And we need to listen; for then we might even change the world.”

Those who know me well know one of my favorite books is The Listener by Taylor Caldwell. In this book, numerous individuals find their own solutions when someone cares enough to listen. Also, one of my favorite Old Testament prophets is Habakkuk, who asks, “O Lord, how long must I call for help before you will listen?” The message of Habakkuk is, we have a God who not only listens, but hears and acts.

So, on this subject of listening, I find myself in agreement with the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk and the modern day prophet Yuill. I am not alone. I believe the leadership of the territory is currently in a listening mode. This was demonstrated at the recent Territorial Executive Conference, where we amended our visioning process to insert a mission alignment phase. This phase will accomplish several objectives, one of which will be to give time for headquarters to listen to what the corps are saying in their vision and needs statements. But, Major Yuill’s point was that if we are looking (visioning), we can change the Army; if we are listening we can change the world. And he urged us to “… listen to the vibrations of a troubled and uncertain world…”

As you read the articles in this edition of New Frontier you will see examples of a troubled and uncertain world. A world that needs not only our listening ears, but our compassionate heart. There is probably no story in the New Testament to broaden our understanding of compassion more than the story of Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus. Recall, the brother of Martha and Mary has died. These three were close friends of Jesus. What is Jesus’ reaction to this event as he comes to Bethany where the two sisters are mourning?

We find Jesus has two reactions. The first is sorrow (he wept). The other is described by the phrase “deeply moved.” B.B. Warfield in his book The Person and Work of Christ points out that the English translation doesn’t fully convey the sense of the Greek word embrimaomai. Since it is my son who has taken Greek and not I, I need Warfield’s help here. The root of this word apparently means to snort in the spirit.” It was used by Greek playwrights to describe stallions before battle, rearing up on their hind legs, pawing the air and snorting before they charged.

Get the picture here. Christ has entered his father’s world. He would expect to see beauty, order, life. Instead he sees ugliness, chaos and death. Not only is Christ moved with sorrow here, he is outraged! Figuratively, he snorts in spirit.

Outrage is a good place to start as we look at the world. Listen and you will hear the cries of the confused, abused, used, those discarded, and those battered by nature’s fury. It is right to be outraged by issues like abortion, pornography, euthanasia, moral and economic poverty and the disruptions caused by natural disasters. We don’t have to travel to another continent to feel the sorrow and hear the pain. If we are listening, there are those crying out in our communities, just outside our doors. The prophet Job got it right when he observed, “From the city men groan and the souls of the wounded cry out.” (Job 24:12). If we are seeing the secret wounds, listening to the silent cries in our very own communities, we will demonstrate someone cares.

Outrage is an appropriate place to start, but it is not enough. A biblical view of compassion demands action on our part. Our challenge is to keep abreast of a changing world while still embracing the eternal written and living Word. To do this entails three aspects: we must value clear thinking, establish priorities, and remain proactive. Remaining proactive means we will take the example of Jesus in John 20:21, “as the father sent me, so send I you” and go back one step to what that means.

Jesus fed the hungry, healed the sick, comforted the downtrodden, and raised the dead, forever linking compassionate action with evangelization. As we rethink mission for 2000 and beyond, we must listen, become outraged, be moved with compassion to act, and thus change the world.

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