I recently had a bout with laryngitis, that fun little inflammation of the vocal chords that renders a person unable to speak above a whisper. Those who know me well, in particular, my close family, know that I like to talk. This means that being struck with laryngitis has forced me to have to utilize some of my other senses while I partake of some very interesting home remedy concoctions to try and help my throat speed up the healing process.
One particular sense that has been forced to become more acute during this period of time is that of listening. Now we all hear things all day long, but I am not quite sure we take the time to listen to what enters into our ear canal. Perhaps too much ear wax stops the noise from being processed by our brains or maybe it is just our inability or unwillingness to take the needed time to listen.
How many of us have just sat out on the porch without the television on, with the radio off, and with all other electronic forms of entertainment unplugged. I mean sitting there long enough to soak in all the sounds one might hear – birds singing, cars driving, dogs barking, the wind whistling through the trees, or during this time of year, all those air conditioners trying to keep the homes cool. For that matter, how many of us take the time to really hear what our children or spouse is saying before we provide our super-fast and ill thought out response.
There are a multitude of Scriptures that speak of the need to listen. The Shema begins with “Hear O Israel” implying the need for the people to listen carefully to what is about to be stated. John 10:27 states, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” noting the reality that as followers of Jesus listen and know the voice of the Great Shepherd they are able to hear and identify His voice over all the others. The Proverbs are replete with the command to listen. For example, Proverbs 19:27 says, ”Cease listening, my son, to discipline, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.”
As I noted, there are numerous verses all throughout Scripture that speak of the necessity of hearing and listening with the express purpose of moving to a place of understanding. Hearing is more than noise entering your eardrum. Listening is more than nodding your heard and murmuring an “Uh-huh” when someone is talking to you. Both activities require the hearer to process and understand what is being stated and, of course, that will require effort. It seems the real effort is rooted in keeping our mouth closed long enough to process and understand what we are hearing. For most of use, it takes a rather herculean effort to keep those lips from moving.
So as this bout of laryngitis has ended now, I am being challenged to listen and understand. It is quite honestly something I am not well-versed in doing, but it is high time I begin to exercise some spiritual muscles in this area of my life and in turn take heed to God’s repeated commands in His Word to listen. I need to listen to Him more. I need to listen to those around me more. I need to take time and enjoy the sounds of God’s creation a bit more which will require turning off technology and turning on my ears.
I encourage you to join me in exercising your hearing. God has noted that those who listen will be on the path to knowledge and maturity. Those who fail to listen will stray from the words of knowledge. This means keeping on the path God has outlined requires us to listen. Will you be willing to close your mouth, open your ears, and actually listen? Let’s all give it a try, shall we?