Today I am leaving my corner of the world in Okinawa, Japan, with a final destination of the Protestant Women of the Chapel International Conference. I am on an Al Nippon flight to Tokyo, where I will catch a flight to Seattle, then to Denver, and finally on to Dallas, TX. It is going to be a long day and then some, all in all about 29 hours. Yet it will still be Nov. 9 when I arrive—that’s the weird thing about crossing the International Date Line. While at this conference I will have the opportunity to present a workshop entitled, “My God-Ears are on: The Quiet Time Guide.” The next bunch of posts will feature content from the workshop.
Do you ever feel like you might as well have marshmallows in your ears when it comes to listening to God? Because we can’t see Him, and most of us don’t audibly hear Him, it can be pretty frustrating to learn to identify His voice. How do you learn to hear something you can’t actually hear? For years, I would sometimes hear someone say something about hearing God, and I would feel like a second-class Christian, wondering why God didn’t speak to me too. Was I not doing something right? Did God like so-and-so better than me? Questions like this could often make me feel discouraged.
My God-Ears are on is a silly phrase that came to mind as I worked on a little skit about listening to God. I had ordered a pair of big ears to use as a prop, because a good visual makes things more fun. I was trying them on when my daughter came in the room, giving me that, “oh no, what goofy thing is my mom up to now?” look that all tweeyboppers can give you when they are about to be really embarrassed by Mom. Do you know the look?” “You’re not going to wear those in public are you?” As if. Well anyway, beating her to the punch I said, “These are my God-Ears to help me hear better.” I was promptly dismissed with The Shrug and the “”Whatever” that can come out nearly every other word with a teenager. For me, putting my God-ears on means to listen attentively, with the awareness that God will speak. For all of us, this is a process. Learning to interact with God through a quiet time, or a time of personal reflection on God’s Word, can be the training ground where we learn to hear and act on His word.
Matthew 7: 24-27 is a passage that talks about listening to Christ. Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst forth against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock. (NASB)
The first thing that stood out to me was the word, “everyone who hears.” This tells me that everyone has the capacity to hear Jesus. In this passage, Jesus talks about hearing and acting on “these words of Mine.” There is a personal aspect to the way that Christ has stated this. So if we can hear and Jesus is speaking, why don’t we feel like we can hear what He is saying? The Bible clearly states that God speaks through His word, and He leads through giving understanding. Hearing and acting—I am learning that there is so much that goes on in that “and.” The process between the hearing and the acting is the heart of a quiet time, or a time of personal reflection on God’s Word.
Intentionality: Puttin’ My God-Ears On
We can learn to really think about what we “hear” when we read God’s word with our God-ears on. The essence of having my God ears on has everything to do with HOW I listen and what I do with what I hear.
James 1:25 NASB says this: But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.
When our God ears are on, we are hearing intentionally in a way that helps us to live it out—being a doer of the word—hearing and acting. The process goes like this: As I read He speaks, I listen. As the Holy Spirit brings understanding, I process what I’ve read by seeking to know Him better through what He says. And then I respond to what He has shown me. The words, “forgetful hearer,” jump off the page at me because I often struggle with forgetting stuff…lots of stuff. I am rather well known for the tendency to have some serious -scatter-brained moments. I am quite relieved that I have a nice hard skull to keep that scatter-brain together in the same place! The first time I remember noticing this little verse tucked away near the back of the Bible, I thought about how easy it is to close my Bible and promptly mentally misplace what I just read. Please tell me that I am not the only one who has struggled with this!
What I am really getting at is a little word called, attention. Learning to give God our attention is really, really important, and this has everything to do with motivation. Attention doesn’t happen by accident. Have you noticed that we never apologize for paying attention, “Oh so sorry, forgive me for really paying attention to what you were saying.” Nope, I have never heard anyone say that. On the other hand, I often find myself murmuring words of apology because I wasn’t paying attention to what someone was saying—evidence of the scatter-brain at work….again!
So join me for my next post as we begin to look at some practical tools and strategies to help us learn to hear what Christ has to say to us, as well as to remember what we have heard long enough to act on it! Together, we will learn to put our God-Ears on…and then I won’t be the only one looking so special in my big ears!