When I was a young child my parents learned I had been born with a significant hearing disability – about a 60% loss in both ears. As a fresh kindergarten student, I was fitted for hearing aids and have worn them ever since.
Hearing aid technology was not great back then – basically volume amplifiers that plugged my little ears and a receiver piece that sat on the top. Today’s technology is much better but still falls short of restoring my hearing to full levels. I miss out on a lot.
As a Christian, I have learned there is also a condition called “spiritual hearing loss.” I have trouble hearing God.
In fact, for a long time I wasn’t really sure what “hearing God” really was. I have never heard God audibly, and I have not seen Him physically. Hearing God was a murky matter for me. Probably for you too, huh?
When we don’t hear God, our spiritual lives may seem flat. We lack connection… direction… purpose. We may even feel spiritually frustrated. By the way, these are the same experiences for those who struggle to hear physically!
With time I have learned some ways to improve my spiritual hearing. Interestingly, the very things I do to hear spiritually are the same things I must do to hear physically. Here are some examples:
1. Choose to hear
For me to hear physically, I have to try to hear. I have to want to hear. And I have to focus.
If I am sitting in an audience and want to hear the speaker, I have to tune in and focus. If I am in conversation with others, I have to engage more intently than others. If I can only hear 1 or 2 out of 5 words, I listen as hard as I can to get that 3rd or 4th word. When you have hearing loss, every word counts.
Many Christians want to hear God, but not bad enough. They don’t want to focus. They don’t want to engage. They don’t want to sacrifice to hear God. They are content to catch a word here or there, but not enough to hear God clearly.
You can do church, bible study, proclaim Christian values, etc. and not choose to hear God… I know because I’ve tried that, too.
Hearing God starts with a simple choice to really listen.
Samuel chose to hear God. “Speak God, I am listening,” he said.
2. Go to the voice
At home when my kids yell my name, I run into the other room to hear them. When my wife calls me from upstairs, I come out of my office to hear her. All my life I have learned to go to the voice in order to hear.
When people call out to me from a distance, I hear noise but not words. So I move closer to them in order to hear. I read lips – so getting to the voice is helpful.
Hearing God is the same. We have to go to the voice. Jesus understood the need to go to the voice of the Father.
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35)
Do you have a time to get away and meet with God? Do you have a place to meet with God?
To hear God, Go to the voice.
3. Master the Text
In college I would make a point to meet with my professors. I particularly wanted to know how much of their tests were based on the textbook content and how much was based on classroom notes. This helped me know how important it was for me to hear in class. Remember, for me classroom hearing requires more work.
I liked it when the tests were based primarily on the texts. I learned to excel in the classroom by mastering the text. As long as I mastered the text, I could make A’s.
You can’t hear God apart from his word. You must master the text.
God is invisible, but the Bible is the one thing you can hold in your hands and “see” God in most visible ways. This text is the most tangible expression of God himself.
Christians who choose not to master the text are simply choosing not to hear.
Samuel understood the importance of mastering the text. “The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground” (1 Samuel 3:19).
In your court
We’re all physically separated from God. He is invisible to us, and mostly inaudible, too. But if we choose, a connection is available. The ball is in our court as to how much separation we’ll accept.
So maybe it’s time for a hearing check. Make a decision that you want to hear. Schedule an appointment to go to the voice. And pull out the text while you’re there.
Yes, God is invisible… and mostly inaudible. But he’s hearable.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
Have you ever approached your walk with God this way?
What’s working for you? and what’s most challenging?