by Kevin Burton
“Got your ears on?” is the way truckers on CB radio used to ask, “Are you listening?
This month on Page 7 we have talked about God’s plan, His eagerness to communicate it to humans and some of the ways in which He does so.
Pastors and theologians who speak on this topic always include our listening as a vital aspect. Obviously, communication is a two-way street.
“Maybe the reason most of us feel like we can’t hear from God is we’re too busy talking,” said Perry Noble, pastor of NewSpring Church in Anderson, SC.
“The tragedy is that our eternal welfare depends upon our hearing and we have trained our ears not to hear,” A. W. Tozer wrote in his book The Pursuit of God. “The order and life of the world depend upon that Voice, but men are mostly too busy or too stubborn to give attention.”
In the wake of the coronavirus, that may be changing.
According to a poll conducted by McLaughlin and Associates, 44 percent of Americans think the virus is a wake-up call from God.
In the poll, 40 percent of Christians reported reading the Bible more and 22 percent of non-Christians said they are now reading the Bible and listening to Christian sermons.
These responses were collected March 23-26, according to The Jerusalem Post. As deaths and economic chaos from the virus continue to escalate, those percentages only figure to increase.
In hearing God, the attitude of the listener makes all the difference according to Dr. Charles Stanley, pastor of the First Baptist church in Atlanta and founder of In Touch Ministries.
“Most of us are much, much better at talking to God than listening to Him,” Stanley said on a recent broadcast.
He said one needs to approach God with a teachable, attentive and submissive spirit. It’s the attitude of the young boy Samuel when he was learning to recognize God’s voice, saying “Speak, for thy servant hears” (1 Sam. 3:10).
“When he speaks he’s going to make it clear,” Stanley said, “but are you listening with a yielded heart?”
Without a yielded heart, you don’t have your ears on.
Stanley said learning to hear God’s voice is the most important skill a Christian can have.
He said it is necessary to make this the top priority. That also includes filtering out messages that don’t line up with the Bible.
I used to be an absolute baseball nut. I had my favorite teams, Cincinnati and Kansas City, but I also wanted to hear other games from around the country. Couldn’t get enough.
This was in the days before just about every game was on TV. In those days I had to scan the AM radio dial for games.
To get games on distant stations I had to tune the dial just right and often physically turn the radio to keep the game from fading out and some other station to come in.
We have to do something similar to hear God. We have to be intentional about tuning in God’s voice and just as importantly tuning out competing messages.
This world sure can produce some static.
Of course there is a big difference between listening to the Texas Rangers walk the bases loaded in the ninth inning and listening for instructions from the living God. The one is entertainment, the other is worship.
Stanley says making time to listen to God is an important part of that intentionality.
“You can’t learn to listen to God 90 miles an hour,” Stanley said. “You’re going to have to take time to be quiet and get still and learn to listen.”
While the multiple cares of the world tend to compete with God’s voice, another hindrance is of our own making.
“Deliberate willful sin in the life of a believer is static, interference to my listening spirit.” Stanley said.