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Hearing re: to perceive sound, to listen with attention.

Every adult knows that what we hear and what we listen to are two different things. How many times do we recognize that our children hear us but don’t necessarily listen to us? How many times do we laugh about peoples’ selective hearing in marriage or in old age? Comedians have made a living off of this. Our world today is filled with noises. Our ears are bombarded daily from the loudness of city traffic to the high pitch of fluorescent lighting, inside and outside businesses, so much so that we live with earbuds for either silence or our own listening enjoyment. In spite of all this noise, we still have the ability to tune out sounds when we really need to concentrate on something.

In my new location here in this flat, mid-south region of the United States, we are into tornado season. The ferocity of storms is much different from the hilly and mountainous land of New England, my former home. As I think about spring cleaning my sense of sound, I’m running together in one paragraph several scripture verses that have to do with hearing:

“My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.”[1] “As you enter the house of God, keep your ears open and your mouth shut. It is evil to make mindless offerings to God.”[2] “Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left.”[3] “And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.”[4]

This last verse was about the prophet Elijah. Imagine yourself standing and expecting God to speak to you. As you listen, there is an earthquake, and then a roaring fire, as God presents himself. Personally, I’d be shaking in my shoes; but then, in the silence, I hear a “gentle whisper”. A whisper is something communicated up close, not from a distance, but privately and close up. A whisper is something to which we listen. We tune our senses to the speaker.

There is much more to be said about sound, listening, hearing in Scripture, but perhaps the most significant is that “faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.”[5]

Help me Lord, to be attentive to your still small voice, to the whisper of the Holy Spirit, rather than the noise around me. Help me to grow in faith as I listen for you daily.

[1] Prov 2:1,2 [2] Eccl 5:1 [3] Is 30:21 [4] 1Ki 19:12 [5] Rom 10:17

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