As you might suspect, I noticed some changes on my way to joining the “mature adult” crowd; i.e., becoming a verifiable “antique human being”. One was that too many years of running loud equipment and shooting guns, coupled with a significant ear infection when I was a kid was having an impact on my hearing. Gradually, my responses to my wife’s comments began to be more and more predictable. They ranged from things like, “What?” or “Did you say something?” or to some version of that line from The Godfather, like “Are you talkin’ to me?” Eventually, we reached the point where the issue toggled over to doing something about it. Oddly enough, the transitional event occurred during a routine visit to one of the warehouse stores where we frequently shopped.
An Odd Discovery ~
We were standing near the entrance area waiting for an employee to check on something for us. In the midst of refining my people-watching skills, I heard my wife say clearly, “Did you know you can get a free urine test here?” Obviously, one can’t just ignore a piece of marketing insanity like that, right? I found the whole idea to be totally ridiculous, and proceeded to say so. With understandable incredulity, I declared, “That’s crazy. Who would do that? How many people would go to a warehouse store to get a urine test?”
Before I could finish my eloquent rebuttal to the latest “Big Box” idea, Diane took me by the elbow, turned me around, and pointed toward the sign in the “Hearing Department” (I’d never really paid attention to it even being there before) that read, “Free Hearing Tests.” All I had to offer then was a sheepish, “Ohhh . . . Okay, I get your point.”
Another Perspective ~
Needless to say, it was time to make an appointment, and I did. Since then, I’ve become a very grateful user and proponent of hearing aids. There are lots of helpful options available, and improved hearing really can make life so much better. But there’s another perspective we should consider . . . What if there’s a correlation between a deteriorating capacity to hear as we get older and a diminishing sensitivity to God’s voice as we “age” spiritually? If so, what can, or what should, we do about it?
Before offering a few suggestions, there’s one point that needs to be emphasized. There’s a fascinating distinctive about the living God we serve that we may not think about very often. Unlike the mute idols and graven images people have created and worshiped throughout human history, the God who created us actually speaks. Our job is to hear Him. God used the occasion of His Son’s baptism to demonstrate His capacity to speak and affirm our responsibility to listen. John recorded it like this:
And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Luke 9:35 NKJV)
Other Gospel writers made it clear that Jesus repeatedly emphasized the importance of hearing more than His physical voice. He often culminated a parable with a phrase that was one of His favorites:
He who has ears to hear, let him hear! (Matthew 11:15 NKJV)
In the course of the dissertation in which Jesus described Himself as the Good Shepherd, He emphasized the importance of hearing and recognizing His voice as a vital part of our relationship with Him:
But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers. (John 10:2–5 NKJV)
Much later the Apostle Paul observed that hearing is foundational to saving faith. The faith required for salvation doesn’t come through keeping rules, engaging in religious rituals, joining an organization, or reciting a creed. It’s much simpler than that. He said:
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17 NKJV)
It’s reasonable to conclude that just as our physical hearing can deteriorate and needs attention, so can our spiritual sensitivity. Our conscious awareness of God’s presence can diminish for many reasons. Our exposure to His written words can become more infrequent, or it can become ritualistic and hollow. Life can get so full of activities that our time with Him gets pushed off into the periphery. And the seductive influence of the devil’s world system can lead us into sinful practices and leave us too laden with guilt and shame to approach Him.
An Alternative Option ~
All of us are vulnerable and likely to experience some degree of spiritual hearing loss at some point in our lives. In light of that, I’d like to respectfully suggest a few “hearing aids” that have been suggested by my personal experience with physical hearing loss. I don’t want any of us to miss anything the Lord has to say.
- Face the One who’s talking: I’m much more likely to hear what my wife (or anyone else) has to say if I’m looking at her (or them). Turning our conscious attention toward God and placing our hearts, minds, and bodies in a posture to receive what He says will help to ensure that we don’t miss anything. The Psalmist said it clearly:
When You said, “Seek My face,” My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.” (Psalm 27:8 NKJV)
- Remove the obstacles: Ear wax is a natural process that has protective benefits, but like other natural benefits we can allow them to become a hindrance. The prescription is simple . . . Clear out the things clogging up your spiritual passageways. Whether it’s social media, too much pointless busywork, or some kind of obsessive compulsion. What James has to say about our hands and hearts works for the ears, too:
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:8 NKJV)
- Beware the party atmosphere: It’s hard to discern the voice of God in surroundings designed to obscure or obliterate any spiritual influence. Where we hang out will affect what we hear, and there are obviously some places that can lead to spiritual deafness. Paul offers this directive:
The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. (Romans 13:12–14 NKJV)
- Keep the batteries charged: My electronic hearing aids need a power source to make them work. If I don’t keep the batteries charged, they simply shut down. Our connection with Jesus Christ is powered by the Holy Spirit, and we have some responsibilities regarding our relationship with Him:
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8 NKJV)
And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18 NKJV)
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:3 NKJV)
Do not quench the Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 5:19 NKJV)
It comes down to this. God has not stopped speaking, but it seems like His words many times aren’t being heard. Maybe it’s time for all of us to have a good hearing test. The living God has things to say to every one of us. Maybe He’s been trying to get through, and we didn’t even realize He was talking to us. I wonder what would happen if we turned on our spiritual hearing aids, opened our Bibles, leaned our hearts, minds, and bodies toward God, and said, “What would you like to talk about, Lord? I’m ready to listen now.”
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to tweet and share from the pull quotes below. Each one links directly back to this article through Twitter . . .
- “What if there’s a correlation between a deteriorating capacity to hear as we get older and a diminishing sensitivity to God’s voice as we “age” spiritually? If so, what can, or should, we do about it?” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “There’s a fascinating distinctive about the living God we serve. Unlike the mute idols and graven images people have created and worshiped throughout human history, the God who created us actually speaks. Our job is to hear Him.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Just as our physical hearing can deteriorate, our spiritual sensitivity can as well. The seductive influence of the devil’s world system can lead us into sinful practices and leave us too laden with guilt and shame to approach God.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Turning our conscious attention toward God and placing our hearts, minds, and bodies in a posture to receive what He says will help to ensure that we don’t miss anything.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “The living God has things to say to all of us. What would happen if we turned up our spiritual hearing aids, opened our Bibles, leaned our hearts toward God, and said, “You’re actually talkin’ to me, aren’t You? I’m ready to listen now.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
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Excellent spiritual advice Ron!
Wonderful to see your name in the inbox, Jason. Thanks for the encouragement and the reminder of how blessed we are to have discovered you and your family. Our continual prayer is that God will pour out His blessing on your work and the many ways you minister to others and that He will make you fruitful in all that you do. Please pass our love around to everyone.
What a great analogy here, Ron. We can become deaf to God’s voice, or we can seek it out earnestly every day. I know that things and events often distract me from staying focused on what God is trying to say to me, and I pray not to allow that to happen so frequently that I forget to mend my ways and change my direction.
Hope your new hearing aids are enhancing your physical ability to hear those around you, my friend. My mother’s never really worked right, no matter how they were tweaked; it was so frustrating trying to carry on conversations.
Thanks, Martha, and you’re so right. The never ending list of things that vie for our attention every day can move God to the waiting list a lot more easily than we’d like to admit sometimes. Staying focused on Him is a challenge, but the rewards are more than worth it. The devil wants us to think that the immediate urgencies are more important and that we can always catch up with God later. I’ve had to learn the hard way that that old lie doesn’t work.
Re. the new hearing aids–they’re working great, and I’m sorry your mom’s didn’t help and that those conversations grew to be so difficult. Again, God bless you for the encouragement and for your faithfulness.
As you so often do my friend, you had me in tears this morning. First, from the riotous laughter of your “big box” experience. Next, tears of confession and repentance as you opened my sometimes glazed over spiritual eyes. First, as I find is often the case, a shared humorous experience. When I and my Ms. Diane finally meet you and your Ms. Diane (yes, how we both met classically beautiful ladies, both named Diane, who are both far out of our leagues, has not escaped me), I’ll have to share my “Oh Crow Farts” story with you, which happened in the early stages of our relationship. Next, the spiritual opening of my eyes was much-needed this morning. Like you, as a “maturing Christian”, I (unlike you perhaps) sometimes find myself thinking I’ve got this whole “being a Christian” thing down pat. I’m supposed to be the mentor, the disciple-maker, not the mentee or disciple. As I’ve grown longer in the tooth, I’ve discovered that in both my physical life and my spiritual life, there is more I don’t know than I know. Boy howdy can that realization humble a fella. Yet, it is in that approaching God’s throne in humility and fear that we make ourselves receptive to the continuing growth God wants for us. As always, a wonderful enlightening and entertaining post my friend. God’s blessings sir.
I simply cannot wait to hear the “Old crow farts” story, and all those others that you have waiting in the wings. As I read your gracious response, I was thinking about all the the different ways the Lord speaks to us and one sort of stood out. In the same way that God sent prophets and emissaries to be His mouthpiece throughout history, sometimes He does that in our own lives, too. In addition to that priceless “still small voice” of God that we hear on the inside during those times of quiet reflections, occasionally, He sends someone along to speak out loud those words of encouragement, admonition, instruction, comfort, etc. that He wants us to hear. You have been that mouthpiece of God for us again and again. So, my friend, keep your ears open down there in Texas so God can continue to send along stuff that us folks up here in Tennessee need to hear.
And by the way, in case somebody up here were to consider meandering on down to Cooper, Texas to have dinner with his favorite writer, what time of year might be the least intrusive to the workload around the Cross-Dubya? As accommodating as you tend to be, I’ve got sense enough to know that there are seasons and periods of time where you know that when that season comes around you aren’t gonna want to have to face another thing to do at the end of your day. Information about that kind of thing could be very helpful in thinking about things to do in case Jesus doesn’t come again right away. Also, we’re continuing to pray with you for rain and any other provisions you and the ranch might need. thanks again for the spiritual updraft your responses always bring.
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I only try to pour back a small portion of all the wisdom you pour into my life my friend. As far as what time of year is best for you and Ms. Diane, the right answer is whenever God says it’s time. It all depends on what you want to do. Fall means planting, Winter means putting out hay (although doing that now already), Spring means calving, and Summer means sweating. So I reckon it’s all a matter of what you want to do most (other than visit and enjoy some quiet country living) my friend. Whatever time of year it is, if time permits, we have to take a day so we can drive down to Tyler, TX and visit your biggest friend. He doesn’t communicate much, but my Father-in-love Ray Pote would so very much enjoy meeting the greatest writer he’s ever read. He enjoys your posts, book, and articles and just can’t get enough of Mr. Ron Gallagher. Nearly each time we speak, my 92-year-young “dad” asks me if I’ve read your latest post; and then, we’ll spend 15 minutes discussing it. 🙂 Looking so forward to seeing all y’all. Whether here in Texas or on heaven’s shore, what a blessing that will be.
Thanks for the feedback, Brother, and what you described was pretty much what I figured anyway Every season brings its own demands along with it. We’ll keep you posted and any travel possibilities that emerge on our end, you can let us know what things are really looking like down there, and we can talk about it like grownups–maybe send a recording to DC and show the kindergarteners running the country how it’s done. I am humbled indeed by the comment about your “father-in-love” (what a great title), and in spite of the risk of disappointment on his end, I would so love to meet him. As you indicated, it could easily be on the other side for any of us, but if we can make it happen here, it would be a great foretaste of what it’s going to be like when we all get home. We’ll still have work to do, I’m sure, but we won’t be worried about running out of time. 🙂