Our hearing, like so many other faculties of our mind and body, is something we often take for granted, that is until it begins to deteriorate, or is affected by illness or an accident. It’s then we begin to value what it is we’re missing.
We’re surrounded these days with so much noise of one form or another that it’s sometimes difficult to discern what it is we should be listening to. We can’t avoid much of what we hear, but we can choose what we listen to. Listening is hearing, but with a difference. Listening is hearing with attention, or, as the dictionary puts it, ‘to make an effort to hear’.
There are so many voices and sounds clamoring for our attention that it’s important that we don’t miss what God, our maker and shepherd, is saying to us (Psalm 95:6-7). He’s wanting to guide, instruct, protect, provide for, encourage and help us, in the same way as He did for the Israelites, His people of old. But, as the psalmist reminds them, they refused to listen and missed out on so much. We too can have selective hearing when it comes to listening to God and miss out on what He has for us.
The ways and methods God uses to speak to us are limitless, if we are listening. Remember that occasion when God had to use a donkey to speak to Balaam (Numbers 22:21-39)? It’s so important we learn to recognise the Lord’s voice, as Samuel did when he was a small lad serving in the Tabernacle and God called him (1Samuel 3:1-10). Samuel went on to live a life of faithful service for the Lord, guided by that voice he’d learnt to listen to, follow and obey.
How well we’re able to recognise the Lord’s voice is a measure of our relationship with Him. We recognise the voices of those we’re familiar with, or have a close relationship with, more easily than voices of other people. A parent recognises the voice of their child, even in a room full of children. A child recognises the voice of their parent. It’s a matter of intimacy as to how well we recognise a voice.
On Resurrection day, when Jesus met Mary in the garden in the half light of early morning, she didn’t recognise Him at first, until He spoke her name. Then she recognised His voice. She knew him so well. How is your hearing? What are you really tuned into? Are you really listening for the Master’s voice?
Do you recognise His voice? How well do you know Him?
Perhaps the words from Frances Ridley Havergal’s hymn should become our daily prayer.
Master, speak! And make me ready when thy voice is truly heard,
With obedience glad and steady still to follow every word.
I am listening, Lord for Thee; Master, speak, O speak to me. Amen.