I Stopped Listening a While Ago
And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. Acts 16:7
Despite Covid-19, we recently risked the airport and flew. Both at the gate and on the airplane, there were multiple routine announcements to which I didn’t really listen. Usually, I’ve got my headphones in or my mind is simply somewhere else. I may not fly often, but over the years, I’ve heard the preflight safety instructions enough times that by now, I barely acknowledge when the flight attendant is speaking. I’ve practiced not listening so much, that I’ve practically become deaf to his or her voice.
My ability to hear God’s voice is, I think, not completely dissimilar. As a Christian, I say I want to hear God, but I’ve spent so much of my life not listening that I’ve damaged my spiritual hearing.
Today’s passage tells of the exact opposite experience. In the story, Paul and company traveled far and wide, spreading the gospel. God said not to go to Asia, and so, they didn’t go. Then, God told them to go to Macedonia, and off they went. What God commanded, they did. I think that if, one day, they chose to stop listening to God’s voice, they would have soon become deaf to it. As it was though, they listened. In obeying, they sharpened their spiritual senses to the point were they simply lived day by day following God’s voice, doing whatever he said.
In theory, I want to know God’s will – in certain things. When it’s a big life-decision and I don’t know what to do, I want God’s opinion. When however, he tells me that I should give up my Saturday afternoon to help a neighbor, I’d rather not listen. I tell myself I want to hear God, but the truth is, I really don’t, because most of the time I already know exactly what I want to do.
A lot of us find ourselves here. We go to God with our big vocational decisions, but we don’t listen to him in our everyday lives. We don’t feed the poor or visit those in prison. We don’t daily abandon our way to follow him. So, when we do go to God with some crisis, he’s silent . . . or perhaps we’ve simply grown deaf. If we truly desire to hear God’s voice, then we must practice listening, every day, even in the little things.