Chris Kelly tells a story about an American Indian who left the reservation to visit downtown New York. Walking down a busy street with his friend, he suddenly stopped and said, “I hear a cricket”.
His friend said, “You’re crazy! There’s no way you could hear a cricket in all this noise!”
The native American persisted, “No! I hear a cricket… I’m sure of it!”
His friend said, “It’s noon! There are thousands of people bustling around, cars honking, taxis squealing…I don’t believe you can hear a little cricket in all this!”
The Indian listened again and walked slowly across the street where he found a large cement planter with a shrub in it. He dug beneath the leaves, and sure enough…there was a cricket!
His friend was stunned, “You’ve got amazing hearing!” But the Indian said, “No. My ears are no different from yours. It simply depends on what you’re listening to. Here, let me show you.”
So he reached into his pocket and pulled out a handful of change — a few quarters, some dimes, nickels, and pennies…and dropped it on the concrete.
Quickly several people began to look for the coin as they heard it clanking amid the sounds of the traffic.!
“You see what I mean? It all depends on what you’re listening for.”
While reading through the book of Matthew during our Bible reading, I’ve noticed how many times Jesus implored people to hear what he was saying. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” is an oft-repeated refrain by the Savior. This proverbial expression spoke to the need to pay serious attention. To take heed. To realize the importance. And to really understand and apply His words.
In today’s Bible reading following Jesus’ transfiguration on the Mountain, God’s voice thundered from heaven and informed Peter, James, John “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matt. 17:5).
Oftentimes we fail to hear what the Lord is saying because it doesn’t fit our agenda. Or conform to our schedule. Or reinforce our own preconceived notions.
Really hearing what Jesus says requires an open mind. A willing heart. And a humble spirit. We must have a longing to hear God’s will. A love for God’s Truth. And a desire to allow Him to work in our lives.
In the practical book of James, as he addresses issues of Christian living, He commands, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (Jas. 1:19). Like Samuel of old, I should always be willing to say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.” My relationship with God will greatly improve, when I quit questioning, quit doubting, and give up my anger when things don’t my way.”
Of course, God doesn’t speak us today through prophets, inspired apostles, or miraculous means. God speaks to us today through His Son, Jesus Christ (Heb 1:1-2). And Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to reveal His word to the apostles (John 16:13 who wrote it down. Paul said that when we read it, we can understand God’s message for us. (Eph 3:3-5).
When I open the Bible I hear Jesus say, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:16). And when I really listen with an open mind, I hear what to do be saved. How to treat other people. How He wants me to worship. What my purpose on earth is. And what my eternal destiny will be.
Ours is a noisy world with voices from social media, cable news, and talking heads who are often times drowning out the voice of Jesus. Rid yourself of obstacles and barriers to hearing God’s voice. You can, if you train yourself.
The blessing Jesus pronounced on the receptive hearers of his day, can be ours.
“But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear” (Matt. 13:17).
What are you listening for?
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman