Summary: Listening to your own heart IS listening to God. Here I am: availability; God’s I AM is then heard in those who have gone before us. Who am I?: accepting responsibility. God’s I AM is His powerful presence. Montgomery Hills Baptist Church
Do you trust what you hear? You hear something, your ears pick it up, but you don’t quite trust that you’ve heard it right? Sometimes that’s because there is a speaker making rash statements and offering foolish promises. You may have thought that about some preacher! Did he really say that? Did I hear that right?
Or maybe we heard it right, but we don’t know how to interpret what we heard. It’s all gobbledygook, and there is no frame of reference in which it makes sense. So we hear it, but we don’t hear it. And we do not trust what we have heard.
Imagine, for a moment, that you are in a new car salesroom. You’ve reluctantly concluded that your twenty-year-old clunker is not going to make it through another highway trip, and so you’ve gone shopping for a new set of wheels. As you stand in front of the 2007 Belchfire 290ZXQ, the salesman is extolling its virtues. He says, "Why, this car will out-perform absolutely anything on the road. This car, you see, is equipped with an electronically sanitized, inverse mounted, differentially adjusted, automatically supported gear ratio controller. And, in addition to that, you can get it with the structurally focused, indigenously distributed, ergonomically correct armature. Now can I sign you up for one?”
What did you just hear? What did you just hear? Words: but the gobbledygook makes you wonder if you can trust what you heard. Something fairly simple became very complicated: something straightforward was made distant and remote, because it was papered over with technical language. We stop trusting what we hear because we live in a complex world, made more complex by those we suspect are out to get us. We no longer trust what we are told; we no longer trust what we hear.
Worse yet, I submit, we no longer trust ourselves. We don’t know what to think, or what to feel; we no longer trust ourselves. More on that in a moment.
Now, a step further. If I were to ask you whether you trust what you hear from God, what would you say? No doubt you would want to talk about how you hear from God at all. Some of you would focus on the Bible, and you would say that, yes, you trust the Bible, you can hear God in the Bible. But then, if you have been in my Wednesday night class, you know that Bible scholars talk about hermeneutical principles and redaction criticism, pre- and-post-exilic contexts, and paradigm shifts. Too steady a diet of that, and before long before you are not sure you can trust what you are hearing in the Bible.
So again, if I were to ask you whether you trust what you hear from God, what else would you say? Some of you might focus on preaching, although I will be the first to admit that there is an awesome amount of noisy nonsense being pushed from some pulpits.
Still others might focus on prayer. If you’re not sure about how to read the Bible and if you are suspicious of prancing preachers and pious platitudes, then is prayer a way to hear the voice of God? Yes, it is; prayer is indispensable to hearing the voice of God. But here again, we can deceive ourselves. Prayer may not always get you a trustworthy answer. You know, don’t you, the old story of the pastor who got a call to a church that paid double his present salary? The pastor told the pulpit committee, because he knew they expected it, "I need to go into my study and pray about this." But his wife said, “While you’re downstairs praying, I’ll be upstairs packing." Even in prayer, our selfishness makes it difficult for us to trust what we hear.
So, again, I ask you one more time: how can you trust that you are hearing the voice of God? What can you trust as God’s authentic voice?
I have a strange answer. It is certainly an answer you can argue with. But over and over again I have found it true. If you ask how you can hear the voice of God, my answer is: listen to your own heart. Listen to yourself. Listen to yourself and there listen also to the voice of God. Trusting yourself is trusting God! Hear me out.
One fateful afternoon the young man Moses found himself listening to his own heart, and hearing the voice of God as well. Moses was tending sheep out in the barren wilderness of Horeb. He was living an unsettled, directionless, rather ordinary life, with only one or two distinguishing marks. He had been raised in the palaces of Egypt; and he had killed an Egyptian in anger, and had therefore become a fugitive. Other than that, Moses looked like a good many of us. He married a wife, got a job, raised a family, and went on, day after day, not dreaming about much of anything. But that was before this day, this experience. After this experience Moses was able to live life with confidence, he was clear about who he was, and clear about what he was to do with his life. He heard and trusted the voice of God. It happened because Moses listened. He listened to himself and so listened to God.