It is an unfortunate part of growing older that our ability to hear clearly diminishes. It is not something that just shows up one day, but a gradual lessening that you notice when you start putting your hand to your ear and asking people to repeat what they just said. At the same time, it is interesting to note that it doesn’t happen across all pitches or for all voices. Some sounds come through quite clearly much to the surprise of the speaker (and hearer!). “I heard that!”
Along with this gradual hearing loss, I have noticed a selectivity in deciding what and who to listen to has crept in as well. When it doesn’t sound like the speaker has anything new to say, we tend to tune them out whether we have heard everything they said or not. This, of course, leads to those embarrassing moments when they pause and we understand that they are waiting for a response. “I’m sorry, could you please repeat the question?”
I wonder, do we ever do this with God? Reading the Bible, listening to the sermon, or finding ourselves in a class setting where we have the same teacher that has been leading the discussion for years can find us tuning out, especially when we have recently experienced an event that we haven’t understood. Then, after following our personal thoughts for some bit of time, we suddenly realized that there was something in what we just heard that may have been important. “I’m sorry, but would you repeat that for me?”
All of this is to say that there can be times when we are in attendance but not present. Much as a dog’s attention is redirected to the squirrel that suddenly darts past, we can find ourselves in the right place at the right time, but our attention is anywhere but where we are. What do you do when you find yourself in that situation? For me, I have to say a little prayer: “I’m sorry, Lord, let me try that again.” I am always amazed that it helps.
I believe that it is a good thing to always be amazed when God helps us. Not that God always helps in the way that I want God to, but it is so suddenly wonderful when we realize that God has heard us and responded. Taking the time to ask for God’s help is really an act of recentering our attention on the One who is always present. Removing what had been our focus and replacing it with an attention to what God is saying and doing at that moment is like taking a big breath of fresh air, and we suddenly find ourselves thankful once again.
I am glad that I don’t have to worry about whether God has heard me. I’m glad that God’s hearing doesn’t grow muddled with time. Most of all I am glad that I can trust God to take what I have said, done, or thought, and create something wonderful with it. Help me, Lord, to be more attentive to all that you are saying. Help me to maintain my focus on you.
Pastor Braxton ><>