There is no greater desire for a follower of Christ than to hear from God. We’re not sure what it takes but if someone could just give us the formula or the required liturgy we’d pursue it with every ounce of energy that we have.We hear a lot from a lot of sources.
It is difficult to hear when we are surrounded by input from all around us. We are inundated with messages everywhere we turn. Questions we never asked on subjects we never contemplated are addressed because that is what is on the mind of the person we are listening to or a part of the agenda of those who created content we absorb.
We are in constant search of truth.
Type your favorite celebrity into a search engine to find out about their life. Search the web for a diagnosis to fit the symptoms you are experiencing. Watch reality TV to better understand how other people live. Plop yourself down at dinnertime to watch all the important stories of the day. All contain truth however, most are limited by time constraints and edited for maximum impact. All are based in truth but still contain bias and lean toward an agenda that limits the scope or plays up certain ideas. We search for the truth constantly, easily satisfied when we come across content that tickles our fancy.
What are we really looking for?
Sometimes it’s content that increases what we know about a person or a subject. Other times we are looking for a peek into another world, one that we don’t and may never live in. There are times we want answers to questions to put our mind at ease. We look for information that answers the questions we consider interesting and/or important.
What we want to know determines what we will listen to.
There will always be things that we seek to better understand, things that we never think about and things we would rather not think about at all. The things that don’t matter and the things that we would rather not know about are allowed to blend into the noises around us while our focus is diverted to the questions that we feel are important and the answers we feel fit our preconceived ideas on the way things should be.
Here’s the problem.
What we want to know dictates both the limits of our search for truth and the limits of what we are willing to accept as truth.
Regardless of whether it is true or not there are some subjects I don’t care to know more about.
Regardless of whether they are true or not there are some answers I just don’t want to hear.
Regardless of whether they are true or not there are some answers that I will accept as untainted truth.
We hear a lot from a lot of sources but only listen to the ones that agree with us.
It is difficult to hear when we are surrounded by input from source after source. It is more difficult to hear when we are only listening for the questions we want asked and the answer we want to hear. We say we want to hear from God but do we want to hear what God has to say? God communicates with us through many different ways but are we really listening?
We can blame the noise of the world around us but when God chooses to talk to us, noise or no noise, we often don’t hear Him. We have chosen the questions we want answered and answers we feel are right, anything else is ignored as part of the noise around us.
In our sinful state we are more apt to hear the world speak and assume it is God.
If our listening is limited to the questions we want answered and limited by the answers we want to hear, it stands to reason that we as people prone to follow our own desires will assume anything we hear is from God. We say we want to hear from God but what we often mean is we want God to tell us the answer we feel is the most desirable outcome to the question that we think is the most important query.
Hearing God means silencing yourself.
Throughout history God has answered questions that no one asked with answers that no one would have expected. I will let you come up with the stories but may I suggest you start with, don’t eat from that tree and end with, a new Heaven and a new earth. In between you may want to look at a floating zoo, a group of people marching around a city seven times, a man who ends up inside a big fish… you get the picture.
To hear God we must remember that both the answer we receive and the question God is addressing can be complete surprises. God sometimes reveals a new truth, God sometimes revisits an old issue, God sometimes reminds us of who He is but God never approaches our life with the same simplicity that we do.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)