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by Mary Alice McGinnis
What do you think of when you hear the phrase “selective hearing?” Try some of these definitions on for size: “The ability that humans have to hear selectively only what serves their interests, being conveniently deaf to what they don't like or can use.” Urban Dictionary “Selective listening is when you focus your attention on some specific information. It involves consciously or unconsciously choosing to listen to what is relevant to you and ignore what isn’t.” WebMD article. We are a generation that is bombarded by sound and constant distractions all around us. We have learned to turn our attention to some things, while we “tune out” others. We might even find ourselves clasping our hands over our ears, screaming, “LA, LA, LA, I can’t hear you” when someone says something we don’t want to hear. The people of Jesus’ day were no different. When things did not meet their way of thinking or measure up to their expectations, they “tuned out.” No matter how God chose to speak to them, either through the voice of John the Baptist, or Jesus, God’s own Son, they found reasons to dismiss or ignore their voices.
We as humans are prone to “selective hearing” syndrome. God speaks gently through the daily grace of His sunrises and sunsets. He speaks loudly through thunderstorms, earthquakes, erupting volcanos, threatening tsunamis, and the like.
Yet we often say, “God, where are you?”
The problem is not that God is not answering our prayers. The problem is our listening perception. The people of Jesus’ day did not want to hear what he had to say, because it did not match up with their agenda. Aren’t we the same?
No matter what God does, it seems we are often impossible to please.
God has nothing to prove to us. All around He gives us evidence of His goodness, faithfulness, power, wisdom, and Sovereign might. What is distracting us from seeing it or hearing it? Do we feel God cannot really be trusted? That we must be the master of our own destiny and take things into our own hands?
This has been the condition of the human heart since the time of Adam and Eve.
Consider what Paul says to us in his letters to the Corinthians.
“For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” 1 Corinthians 1:25
“But, whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
2 Corinthians 4:17-18
Where might Jesus be calling you to open your ears to His voice, to soften your heart, and come to know the transforming freedom of His grace?
Lord, teach us to tune our hearts to selectively hear Your voice, and Your voice alone.
Praying Scripture – Use the words of this Psalm as your prayer today.
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” Psalm 51:10-12