He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Revelation 2:11
My family thinks I’m losing my hearing. I think it’s just fine though. They’re just gradually talking quieter and the ambient noise, drowning out their voices, is apparently becoming louder. My wife thinks I need to consider hearing aids, but I honestly don’t believe I’m there yet. It’s not that bad. If things continue to progress though, there will probably come a time when I need to seek help. If, when that day comes, I refuse to do what it takes to improve my hearing, then I’ll be choosing to not hear. I’ll be choosing deafness.
I’ve been there before though. In my addiction, I hated who I was, and I knew that my actions were completely inconsistent with what God wanted of me. So, I couldn’t look at God. I couldn’t listen to him and I certainly couldn’t hear his voice. Frankly, I didn’t want to hear it. He was a broken record, with only one message anyway: Get help. Confess. Go to treatment. Change your life. In my addiction, as I chose my drugs above all else, I chose not to hear, turning a deaf ear to God. I’m going my own way and I’m not going to do what you say. I’m just not listening to you. Maybe I didn’t consciously say that, but that’s how I lived.
In recovery, the opposite has had to become true. I’ve had to learn to hear and follow God’s voice. I’ve found that if I’m listening, God is constantly speaking. It may not be an audible human voice, but, if I train myself, exercising my spiritual ears, God is communicating to me through his word, though others, through nature, and through my meditation time with him.
You’d think that if God reached down and spoke to us, we’d necessarily hear him, but this isn’t the case. In today’s passage, Jesus implied that hearing isn’t a passive sense over which we have no control. Rather, it’s a skill which we can shrink or grow. How do we quench our ability to hear God? Simple – we follow ourselves, listening to the voice of our own appetite above all. As we do so, God’s voice becomes so faint that we become deaf to it. Thankfully, the opposite is true as well. If we want to know God and his will, we can grow and develop the ability to hear him. As we abandon our will, follow his, read his word, pray, and obey his will, we’ll grow our spiritual hearing. Just as exercise grows our muscles, daily investing in our relationship with God grows our spiritual hearing.