As an audiologist, I often had to speak with patients about the difference in being “hard of hearing” and being “hard of listening.” Many of us don’t know the difference, but they are not the same thing.
Being “hard of hearing” means that there is a defect in the mechanical system of the body. Being “hard of listening” means there is a defect in the attention span. It is possible to be afflicted with both maladies. Neither issue is always easy to remedy and there are many who aren’t that interested in doing so, regardless of which affliction they possess…because it requires change.
Change often scares people–even the ones who claim to love it.
I’ve noticed that loving the one who speaks often makes a difference in the amount of attention we pay to them. I’ve also noticed that you can love the one who’s speaking…and still be preoccupied with other things to the point that we have difficulty processing anything outside our own whirling minds. I am the poster child for that second thing. It’s one of the many reasons that I’m glad God is patient.
As we approach a new year, many people make resolutions about things they want to do differently in the coming days. I can’t remember the last time I made a list of resolutions, but I do like to pick a theme. This year, for the third year running, my theme will be missionary-martyr Jim Elliot’s quote, “Wherever you are, be all there.”
It’s the third year in a row because…I’m still not always good at doing it…
…and I want to be.
I’m choosing to work on this theme again because God in His infinite patience has been teaching me something through my efforts and in spite of them. He’s teaching me about settling my mind enough to be in the place where my feet are so that I can hear Him better.
As I thought about getting this down in writing, the following verses came to mind:
“Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”
Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:8b-10 (NIV)
Several things spring to mind as I read these words:
- Sometimes we can HEAR God calling and not be sure to whom that voice belongs–even when we’re already serving Him and His people. (This is a call to know Him better.)
- Sometimes we will need guidance to help us identify the important things in life. (This is a call to surround ourselves with those mentors who know God’s voice even though they–and WE!–will often be far from perfect in serving Him well.)
- Sometimes it’s important to lie down and be still in order to hear from God. (This is a call to build in some space for rest.)
- As important as it is to lie down and be still, one more element is still required: you need to know where your place is. (This is a call to focus on doing what God has called YOU to do and a reminder that you can’t do it all. Hint: That’s why God made more than one person.)
- God WILL come calling. He always does and He never quits after just one attempt. (This is a reminder that He is patient and insistent, but never rude. His calling is a privilege, not a dictator’s mandate.)
- We have to CHOOSE to listen.
There’s more; SO much more, but I’m closing for today. I have a full day of being where I am and it’s time to get focused on that. I hope you’ll have a wonderful day and that you’ll join me in exploring what God has for each of us in 2018. As for me…
“Speak, Lord, I’m listening.”
Grace and Peace!