If you are a parent, spouse, child or friend, chances are that there has been a time when you had something important to say but your audience was just not listening.
As a mother, I try to communicate lessons to my children that will help them to grow and thrive. I want them to be safe and wise. I want them to treat others well. I want them to love learning. How many times though, have I caught myself talking when it was clear that my child was hearing absolutely nothing? That dreamy, glazed look that covers their darling face when they have either tuned me out or never even dialed in can leave me frustrated and discouraged.
As a wife – and I know that I am not the only wife struggling with this – talking with my husband can be akin to talking to a tree stump. If he is distracted he just. Does. Not. Hear. me. Feelings of disappointment and rejection can accompany this reaction.
Have you ever seen people together where one appeared to be left out and the other was fully engaged with their cell phone? What is the message sent to the ‘real person’ who is waiting for their companion to choose them over whomever or whatever might be inside the phone?
Each one of us decides what we are going to let in. Sometimes, we miss important messages because our focus is elsewhere and sometimes we are simply not interested in what the speaker has to say.
You have seen many things, but you pay no attention; your ears are open, but you do not listen.
I heard a story this weekend about a deaf couple that were sitting together in a social setting. The observer recognized that they were discussing something emphatically because of the intensity of their hand gestures. As the conversation moved back and forth, each response became more animated and each gesture more distinct. After a few more interactions, the man put his hands down and closed his eyes!
What a clear illustration of what we do when we don’t want to listen. We just close our ears. God wants to talk to us. All throughout the Scriptures, God engages in relationships with His people (Adam, Moses, Elijah, Abraham, Job, Jonah). Verse after verse tell us how God speaks to His people in an effort to teach them and help them grow and prosper. Some listen better than others, some listen more often than others, some seem to be listening but the fruit of that doesn’t bear out in their lives.
Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
In order to have a strong relationship with a friend, I have to be willing to listen to her and truly hear what she is saying to me. In return, I will be able to respond in a way that will be an encouragement to her. After demonstrating that love to her, the next time I have something to say, she will respond in kind (ideally). Because we care about one another, we take the time to listen and to really hear.
2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.
2 Timothy 3:17
So that the servant of God may be fully equipped for every good work.
Just as we talk to our children, God talks to us because He loves us and wants only the best for us. When you pray, do you go to God with a list of “please dos” or do you have time to listen to what He may be trying to say to you. Do you hear God in your circumstances? Do you recognize Him reaching out to you when you read His Word?
My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding – indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.