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I Hear You!

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Our ears are a wonderful blessing to us. They enable us to enjoy the sounds of children laughing, birds singing and the rush of a mountain stream. With them we listen to soul-uplifting music and the melodious chant of the poet. Our ears also provide warning. They let us know about an onrushing train before we see it. They let us perceive the wail of an ambulance siren and the hiss of a snake before it strikes. Our ears also play an essential role in communication. Our telephones would not be nearly so useful if we did not have ears.

Our ears are so much a part of us that we tend to take them for granted. Unfortunately, it is only when we lose our ability to hear that we truly appreciate what we used to have. As those who have lost their hearing can testify, life without the ability to perceive sound loses much of its richness.

But this raises another question: What does it mean to ‘hear’? Does hearing merely refer to the ability to perceive the modulation of the air around us at certain frequencies? No, hearing means much more than the ability to sense vibrations. It also implies the ability to understand. For example, the Apostle Paul writes, “...if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?” (1 Corinthians 4:8 NIV) No, if we hear a sound but it means nothing to us we will most probably ignore it. Why would we pay any attention to something which, as far as we know, will make no difference to us?

However, there is another dimension to truly hearing something. To truly ‘hear’ means no only to understand, but to take action on the basis of that understanding. To illustrate the concept, how would you react to your child if you instructed her to do something and she replied, “I hear you, Mama!” yet did not do what you asked? Perhaps you think, “My daughter did not understand what I said.” So, you ask questions and you discover that she understands perfectly what you said to her and what you want her to do. Will you be pleased if she continues to say, “I hear you!” but doesn’t act on what you said? Of course not. Hearing implies not only perceiving and understanding, but also doing.

If we become frustrated with our children who hear but don’t ‘hear’ think how frustrated God must become with us. He communicates to us through nature, through His Holy Word. He sends His Spirit to guide us and touch our conscience. Yet how many of us really ‘hear’ in the sense of acting upon what we understand? All too often we deprive ourselves of the blessings God wishes to give us because we hear but don’t ‘hear’! As Jesus said, “...Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” (Luke 11:28 NIV)