You would most likely agree with me that we live in a very noisy, disruptive world. Groups and individuals are clamoring to express their positions and perspectives. Many times it seems that rather than pursuing healthy and constructive dialogue, the goal is to see who can shout the loudest and longest.
Something seems to be missing in this tsunamic cacophony: the art of listening with discernment. Several years ago, I came across this helpful illustration that emphasizes the importance of attentive listening.
Back in the days when the telegraph was the fastest method of long distance communication, a young man applied for a job as a Morse Code operator. Answering an ad in the newspaper, he went to the office that was listed. When he arrived, he entered a large, busy office filled with noise and clatter, including the sound of the telegraph in the background.
A sign on the receptionist’s counter instructed job applicants to fill out a form and wait until they were summoned to enter the inner office. The young man filled out his form and sat down with the seven other anxious applicants in the waiting area.
After a few minutes, the young man stood up, crossed the room to the door of the inner office, and walked right in. Naturally the other applicants perked up, wondering what was going on. They muttered among themselves that they hadn’t heard any summons yet. They assumed that the young man who went into the office made a mistake and would be disqualified.
Within a few minutes, however, the employer escorted the young man out of the office and said to the other applicants, “Gentlemen, thank you for coming, but the job has just been filled.” The other applicants began grumbling to each other, and one spoke up saying, “Wait a minute, I don’t understand. He was the last to come in, and we never got a chance to be interviewed. Yet he got the job. That’s not fair!”
The employer said, “I’m sorry, but the last several minutes while you’ve been sitting here, the telegraph has been ticking out a in Morse Code. The message stated, ‘If you understand this message, then come right in. The job is yours.’ None of you heard it or understood it. This young man did. Therefore, the job is his.”
The newly employed young man’s situation illustrates how important it is to listen carefully for the right message. The external noise of the current cultural and political environment regularly emits mixed signals and conflicting messages. Amidst this noisy background, God shares His loving, truthful guidance. Jesus declared, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27).
Often in His Word, God discusses with His children their need to listen to Him. In one short paragraph in Psalm 81, God challenges the people of Israel regarding their easy distractability: “O, if you would listen to Me (81:8) … But my people would not heed my voice (81:11) … Oh, that My people would listen to Me”(81:13).
James comments on this critical spiritual need in James 1:19-25, “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”
Three times in the Book of Hebrews (3:7; 3:15; 4:7), God warns believers who are tempted to turn from God and His voice through His Word, “Today, if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”
Christ reaffirms this in His message to the church at Laodicea in Revelation 3:19-20, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”
In a noisy, tumultuous world, it is critically important for the children of God to continually cultivate the good discipline of prayerfully listening to God’s voice through His Word. The Biblical antidote to daily discord and controversy is to “be still, and know that I am God,”( Psalm 46:10).
You have His Word on it!
KEF 04 2017