from the desk of…Hearing God

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By Tim Foley, Major

As I am aging in place, I am finding one thing that is becoming dull is my hearing. My real hearing is just fine. It’s my selective hearing that is fading quickly. My wife will tell me to get a certain product at the store, and I come back with the complete opposite of what she told me to get. When I am asked about my rationale as to why I came back with the wrong product, I tend to use the default phrase: “I didn’t hear you.” If I were honest there is a better phrase that I could say: “I didn’t pay attention to you.”

The noise level in my life has greatly increased. I find myself bombarded with information all day long. We all are interrupted with sights and sounds and smells that send our senses into orbit. Even while we sleep, our cell phones buzz away with incoming messages that just can’t seem to wait. Noise has invaded. To find a few moments of peace and quiet can be a struggle.

Sometimes we followers of Jesus Christ use selective hearing. We only want to hear from God what we want to hear and not what God is truly saying to us. We think that knowing God is more important than listening to him. Or sometimes we tritely say that “God told me to do this and do that,” when it really wasn’t God at all, rather ourselves cloaking it all in God-speak. We can mistakenly think that God only works in the shouting—in noisy worship meetings and busy lives “full of ministry.” But, truth be told, God works best in communicating to us in the silence.

Elijah had a hearing problem also. After battling the prophets of Baal, this brave prophet of God went into a tailspin of doubt and depression. In his depressed state he attempted to run from God, but he certainly couldn’t hide. God questions him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9). Obviously a trick question! Elijah goes on to pout before the living God about how there is no one else that is as faithful as himself. He was the only one doing the right thing.

God helped Elijah get some perspective by sending him away to Mt. Horeb where he produced some signs and wonders: hurricane force winds ripping mountains apart, earthquakes and even fire.

The passage states that God was not in the wind, the earthquake nor in the fire. In 1 Kings 19:12 we find God speaking, depending on the translation, in a still small voice (KJV), a gentle whisper (NIV), a sound of gentle blowing (NASB), a sound of sheer silence (NRSV) or a light murmuring sound (NJB). God did not reveal himself to Elijah in a powerful way. On the contrary, he came to Elijah in the quiet, in a whisper.

We can easily become enmeshed in the banner of “doing the most good,” which can make us too busy to truly hear from God. Perhaps it’s time for you and me to just slow down a bit—learn to hear God again. Taking time to step back from our busy lives is vital. To open up the ears of our heart to once again listen—truly listen to what God is quietly speaking to us. Listen for his guidance. His guiding hand moves in our lives when we least expect it.

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