Summary: Listening to ourselves is also listening to God. If we listen in availability, God will respond in our own history. If we listen for responsibility, God will offer His presence.
There come those times in life when we do not trust what we have heard. Something is said, our ears pick it up, but we don’t quite trust it. We don’t know whether we really heard what we thought we heard. Or we don’t know whether to believe what we heard. Or maybe we don’t trust the speaker. Or, deeper yet, we don’t know how to interpret what we heard. There are those times in life when we do not trust what we hear.
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 the winter, and so you’ve gone shopping for a new set of wheels. As you stand in front of the 1994 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 corrected armature. Now can I sign you up?”
What did you just hear? What did you just hear? Words: but the gobbledygook makes us wonder if we can trust what we hear. Something fairly simple became very complicated: something straightforward and everyday was made distant and remote. Because it was papered over with technical language; because some smart salesman decided to overwhelm us, suddenly it became a big deal, a complex thing, to decide what kind of gearshift lever to buy! We stop trusting what we hear because we live in a complex world. We no longer trust what we hear. We no longer trust what we feel. We no longer trust ourselves.
Now, a step further. If I were to ask you whether you trust what you hear from God, what would you say? Some of you would focus on the Bible, and you would say that, yes, you do trust the Bible, you can hear the Bible. But then you would admit that Bible scholars talk about hermeneutical principles and redaction criticism, post-exilic prophets and paradigm shifts. Before long before you are not sure you can trust what you are hearing in the Bible.
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 someone who has been visiting various churches told me this week that there is an awesome amount of noisy nonsense being pushed from the pulpits these days.
Still others might focus on prayer. Prayer is a way to hear the voice of God. But here again n, we can and do 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, as he was expected to do, "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.