Summary: to hear God we have to tune into God and this means being where God is at.
Imagine a dozen radios all on different stations, playing at the same time. What image comes to mind? Mind numbing noise, mass confusion or perhaps the inability to think clearly, well you’d probably be right. Now imaging trying to listen for your favorite song in the mix of noise. Imagine trying to understand a news report or to get the latest weather information. You might be able to do it but the chance isn’t good is it?
The next few weeks I want to explore with you the subject of “Hearing God”. Next week we’ll look at how hearing God:
Ø Changes our identities
Ø Moves us love others and thereby glorify Christ
Ø Involves us in providing for worship
Ø Directs us in using the gifts we have for God
Ø Offers us more than we could ever imagine.
Our world is sometimes like these radios, blaring away at us with a whole bunch of confusing, uncertain, contradictory, and half-truth messages. It seems that being able to “hear God” more clearly will enable us to face the spin doctored messages handed out by politicians and the semi-scientific mumbo-jumbo that we get sound bytes about on the news. I believe that only as we learn how to hear God and learn what to listen for can we begin to make sense of all the other signals in our life. And then we can begin to reclaim a space for God in our lives and in our world.
It may sound obvious but to hear God we have to tune into God and this means being where God is at. Ananias hears God because he is open to hearing him so when a vision comes he’s able to listen to God. Perhaps he was praying when this vision comes. We don’t know; but many people have heard God while spending time in prayer. Others hear God as the read the Bible. When the law is by Nehemiah the people of God hear Him and spend 4 hours in confession and worship. Some people go overboard in order to hear God. That’s what Peter did. He is told the risen Christ is on shore and he dives off and swims to shore to meet him, leaving his buddies on the boat to struggle with the net full of fish.
Scriptures, situations, still-small voices, spiritual siblings (our sisters and brothers in Christ) are some of the most usual ways that God speaks with us. But unless we’re reading the Bible, spending time in biblically based prayer, looking around us with eyes seeking God and spending time with others who claim Christ as Lord, we won’t hear Jesus.
What more is that even if we’re doing all of this there is no promise we’ll hear him. Has your house ever felt so empty you turned on the TV or radio just for some noise? Any of us ever have children who suffered from SHD (selective hearing disorder)? Perhaps we had it too as a kid or spouse.
How can we tune in to God and listen to Him so we understand what he is directing us to do? We start by fine-tuning ourselves to God’s voice. This isn’t easy or hard it just takes time and practice. We start the process by becoming quiet before God. We turn off the other stations, the other messages that compete for our attention and energy. People do this in a million different ways. Some do it by leaving the house and taking a walk. Others unplug phones and instruct others to not disturb them. If you’ve had experience at relaxation therapy it may be as simple as taking a few deep breathes and letting go of the annoying sounds around you. It can be done by fasting, times of Bible study, listening to music that reflects God’s glory or in times of worship either alone or with others. Taking the step of turning off the other signals is the first step.
What makes this hard is that it means we often have to change our lives. Perhaps you saw the cartoon I did in which a bunch of butterflies are sitting in church pews. One scowling, arm-crossed caterpillar is sitting on the end saying, “I don’t care. I’m not going to change.” That really is okay. One of the graces, the gifts that God has given us the freedom to choose Him or not.
Lets be honest, some people aren’t going to be interested in hearing God. Some would like to hear God but not if it means they have to try anything different. Some would just as soon God stay in heaven and not pester them here on earth. There are times when such people get in the presence of God in worship, or at an event and they quickly tune into something else going on at work or home. Or when God tries to initiate a conversation with them they bring up some hurt they suffered, some sin done to them, or start playing the mental “oldies station” on which Archie and Edith Bunker sing “Those Were the Days” over and over so that God can’t a word in sideways.