Early one recent A.M. I was watching a program about people and their pets, specifically ferrets. There is something captivating about how animated they are. Attach a wrecking ball and they could destroy anything. They grab and hide everything. Strangely, while watching, I found myself analyzing whether or not I could fit all these quirks and demands into my life.
Suddenly I feel like I am talking about the considerations one might make prior to marriage. Can I, or am I willing to assimilate all these quirks into my life? Ah, who am I kidding, we make well thought out decisions about who we might marry.
What does any of this have to do with hearing loss? I will get to that, just hang on.
Marriage tends to be a short string of quick decisions with either some form of commitment or not. With ferrets you can easily get rid of them. (Not that wise considering they are apparently $1000 a pair). I passed by Dad a short time later and tried to talk with him about. (This was meant to be a funny conversation as I had no intention of getting a ferret.) I already had an idea of what he would say, if he heard me. He did not.
I tried getting louder and even changed the wording, but he still could not hear enough to understand. His mind apparently went to the visit by the great grand daughter the previous day. I know this because when I said, and motioned to indicate how ferrets would get into all this stuff, he said something about 'yeah, that little kid was all into this stuff'.
OK, he is not hearing me, and I refuse to scream. - Now is when it gets worse. -
Side note: I have been noticing a phenomenon that happens with me also. If I only hear a portion of what was said, and the portion may have been critical to the story, the minds tends to create a logical assumption and fills in the blank spot. So in the case of my Dad, a child was the logical assumption for the missing ferret.
I had given up the attempt to communicate this ferret story to him and was past ready to move away, but I now found the correlation between ferrets and children worthy of a chuckle.
Mom, notorious for her interjections, whether called for or not, is standing in the hall. She had already started muttering something about this, as she was also aware of this correlation. She is facing dad, who is frustrated because he could not understand. I quickly mentioned the subject to mom and she starts laughing.
Dad sees mom's laughter, makes a huge assumption, and begins screaming, “go ahead, make fun of me because I cannot hear.”
I suppose in truth that is what we were doing, but I do not think it was intentional, at least on my part. Dad said a few other things in next few seconds, but a deeper source of anger came to the surface, and that was the interruption of his plans with having to watch an eighteen month old child that previous day.
The child has to be entertained, but worse is that at grandpa's house there far to many things within reach of a small child that can harm them. We have lived with it and pay little attention to them. One might equate it to going into the barn, at a farm. You might find pitch forks, axes, hoes, and large animals, that are more than willing to kick you into next week if you annoy them. Dad was raised with a farm mentality and thinks little of it.
This all reminds me of a landscape design project that I worked on for a man that lived in the high desert. Even though he had small children, that would be playing hard, right next to these cactus he wanted, said, “if they get hurt, they will only do it once.”
Obviously hearing loss has been a theme as I have been writing, so here goes.
What can one say about hearing loss? Aside from the disappointment you endure, not much good. I have some, and I have blown up at my girlfriend over it, just as my dad did. It is not a joke to me.
There are several causes, but a couple of things that are common with me are: divided attention; lack of focus, and external noises.
If I am focused on the television or my mind gets involved in some thought, then I probably will not hear or at least register what you said to me. Mind you I probably heard something, it just did not register as intelligible with me. I also find that my hearing is affected quite a bit when I am driving, for now I am competing with all the street noises and other cars that are not paying attention, because of their own personal distractions.
Now, relate all this to the Holy Spirit trying to speak into our lives on a daily basis.
There are times that I cannot hear anything for all the voices in my head. No, I am not losing my mind, but be real for a moment. I stop to get a bite to eat prior to work in the morning. This often feels like the best part of my day, for now I can be alone, get quiet, read the Word, and try to tune out whatever funk they have playing on the overhead radio. So here I sit, thinking about the time, avoiding upcoming traffic, what God may be saying to me, attempting to listen to his voice, tuning out some of my own thoughts, and all this while competing with 80's disco and boy bands that were so popular then.
Get it – voices. All of them competing for my attention, and I have to learn to pick out the most beneficial one. Ideally I want that to be the voice of the Holy Spirit.
In the midst of all this, you need to know that God is not going to yell in order to get your attention.
No doubt he can make a ruckus, we saw that when he was making his point along these lines with Elijah. The end result of that teaching session was that God communicated with a still small voice.
" Then he said, Go out and take your place on the mountain before the Lord. Then the Lord went by, and mountains were parted by the force of a great wind, and rocks were broken before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind there was an earth-shock, but the Lord was not in the earth-shock. And after the earth-shock a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire, the sound of a soft breath. And Elijah, hearing it, went out, covering his face with his robe, and took his place in the opening of the hole. And there a voice came to him saying, What are you doing here, Elijah? " (1 Kings 19:11-13 BBE)
I can tell you from experience that I have to be paying attention to hear a voice like that.
An analogy: My girlfriend and her daughters have learned to communicate with very high frequency, low volume, vocal tones. It seems to me that happens when they do not want me to hear them. In truth, they are just used to each other and do it all the time.
The nice thing about the Holy Spirit is that he speaks to and through our spirits, and that is internal, not subject to physical impairments that prevent a hearing loss. And the Holy Spirit can speak to you whether you belong to Him or not.
Why might that be:
For one, He paid the ransom price for us, and technically owns us. Ponder that!
Why then do we not hear Him?
Having taken grandma to the hearing specialist we learned that arthritis can effect the inner ear, causing the eardrum to toughen, therefore not responding appropriately to the sound it hears. We seem to suffer from a spiritual version of this in which we harden our hearts. God speaks of this when he says “do not harden you hearts..”. You will find references to this in: Psalms 95:8, Heb 3:8, Heb 3:15, Heb 4:7
This hardening of the heart is a selfish act that desensitizes the heart against God's voice. I might note that grandma, in our opinion, could not hear, and yet he claimed she has no hearing loss as we understand it. If not for the hardening, she would hear.
I suspect that little occurs outside the umbrella of self inflicted hearing loss when it comes to God speaking. Let's suppose that you are not intentionally trying to ignore God, then we have to consider the distraction factors. Scripture tells us that the world and all that is in it are hostile against God. Your mind balks at that because you have to work, and I am sure that God intended for you to relax. Perhaps, but there is little about your life that promotes focused concentration on God's voice.
For me, one of the ways I focus my attention upon Him is through worship. That word means different things depending upon the hearer. Many will tell you that every aspect of being on the property of our religious edifice fills the need for worship. I don't think so! I have run sound boards and had to walk away. I ran the computer interfaced projection screen, and directed the camera people, and I had to walk away. WHY? Because it became a tedious job and ceased to be a part of worship. No doubt for a time it was, and felt like it. I can remember how it felt to be able to dance before the Lord, in a booth that I thought no one could see into. I remember being able to comment to a camera person how what the Pastor had just said spoke into my heart. But it all turned into a stressful, tedious, job, and I have that on a steady basis at work, and do not want that in any form come time for me to go to “church”.
Women, at least in my opinion, seem to think all of us men are shallow because we might go and buy a card and merely sign our name to it. I can tell you that I picked up and read every one of them. The one I signed has been one of those that expressed most clearly what I wanted to convey. I have learned that I must take this card thing a step further by adding some additional emotion. Worship, singing out to the Lord, is the same thing to me. I make many of the songs we sing mine, and I sing them back to God as a prayer, or a plea.
It excites me that so many songs extol God for his greatness or his grace and mercy. There is one that says, “but that is not who you are”. In so many places in scripture there are descriptive words defining who we are in Christ, and how God sees us. I cannot get enough of this. It focuses me, clears out the cobwebs of daily life, and it often causes me to be overwhelmed with waves of joy, and I find myself laughing. Given a more liberal environment I would just let that joy wash over me, for that is a place I love, and long to be enveloped in.
Why is it that you can take a quiet, reserved, confined person, add alcohol and they will do things with little regard for the people around them? Consider that we as believers have been invited to come and drink from the fountain of life. I might add that Jesus turned the water into wine. Ponder the reaction many have to alcohol. It shuts down or mutes many of the brains receptors, and apparently concerns for what people think about you and perceive are one of those. If you are out of control and humiliate yourself, though you may have no concerns at the time, many will remind you later about what you did.
I spoke to a hypnotist on one occasion and asked him why people do crazy things under hypnosis. He said those people are doing no less than what they would under the influence of alcohol, and they are only doing what their conscience and personal limitations will allow. In other words, you will not do thing that go against your will.
God asks us to step out in faith and speak something that is unknown to us, into someone else' life. His intent, though that is really not our concern, often involves some form of healing or revelation of God's love toward the individual. (I realize that was a simplistic answer, but “God's love” is inclusive of most of what God does, therefore a fair answer.) I have many times seen the recipients tear up as God speaks to them through a willing person. (I am usually overwhelmed by the mercy of God as I give out something like this, and you would typically see me in tears as well.)
If I cannot step outside those things that constrain me internally then how do I respond to God's voice?
If there is really no hearing loss, what then are we dealing with?
1. Lack of focus – upon God, his Word, his voice?
2. Outside distractions – There are so many.
3. No interest – In what, knowing Him?
4. Self conscious issues – you are so concerned about what, how this makes you look? I wanted to much to be cool and accepted. Fortunately I have become old enough to realize how stupid that is, most of the time.
5. A fear of ….
6. Lack of trust – Really this could easily fall under the category of fear. But if you do not trust God then you are showing me that you do not know Him, and that is a situation that you can remedy.
7. You believe that you are lacking the venue in which to deliver your message. - This one is such a trap. I fell into it myself. If God gives you a word for someone, while tact may be in order, the place has nothing to do with some church structure. I watched a group who opted to take the prophetic ministry to the street and integrate it into their street ministry. I watched the tears flow on the street as well, as God showed people who might not have stepped inside a church, how much he loved them. God will invade your dreams and the dreams of others if you ask him.
8. A lack of recognition of God's voice. - That is one you will have practice. It requires that you take risks, and therefore allow your steps to be subtle and small at first. If you use this as a guideline you will probably be relatively safe. God has said all that he needs to say in his word, therefore what you say can easily sound so much like bits of several scriptures and have such a tremendous impact. If you merely told someone, with sincerity, that God was especially fond of them, you would not be wrong.
Be careful. If you deny or attribute God's intent or activity to the Devil then according to Matthew 12 you are in the place of blasphemy, and that cannot be a good place.