Dad needed them badly, but he didn’t want them at all.
He was afraid he’d look like an “old fart,” with chunks of hard plastic hanging on his ears, squealing with feedback now and then. So years passed, and he refused the hearing aids, and his world became more and more muffled.
He’d respond in conversation with a repeated refrain: “What? What did you say?”
He acquiesced a couple years ago, and was fitted with a set of hearing aids that tuck discreetly behind the ear. We remind him what a dashingly handsome man he is (and he really is!).
When I see the flesh-colored plastic behind his ears, I remember my own hearing problem.
I need hearing aids, too — not for my physical ears, but my spiritual ones.
The world is shouting at me with buzzing Blackberries, whirring washing machines and spiral-bound schedules that read like run-on sentences, page after scribbled page.
“God where are you?” I cry out. “What did you say?”
And I think of the people who seem to hear Him so well over the din of their day. They say things like: “God told me the other day…” or “God spoke to me this morning over breakfast …”
They readily quote Scripture, and have answers, and seem poised under pressure. And me? I stumble and fumble and jumble the words and can’t hear the Voice.
Maybe I’ve been too proud, at times, to wear my hearing aids.
The National Institutes of Health report that only about one out of five people who would benefit from hearing aids actually use them.
Perhaps they think their hearing isn’t so bad after all? Perhaps I think the same.
But in my inner spirit, I know this: My hearing problem isn’t too small; my pride is just too big.
The voice of that green monster named Pride shouts: “You don’t need God’s help. You can handle it on your own.”
I know how sweetly the Voice speaks when I do wear my hearing aids. I scold my busy-self for not doing so often enough: When I know how much better I hear with hearing aids, why do I sometimes refuse?
And so I push the pause button on my life to listen for the still, small voice of the Great Big God. I mute the voice of the green monster, and I put on my hearing aids like this:
I fall into the secondhand chair with the wooden arms, and pull the prayer shawl over my shoulders. I light the HOPE candle, and open the Book. And in the Living Words, He speaks. I don’t hear an audible Voice, but I hear reverberations from Spirit to spirit. He woos me with His Voice in the Word. Today, I hear Him in 1 Samuel 3.
“The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, ‘Jennifer! Jennifer!”*
Then Jennifer said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
And the LORD said to Jennifer: “See, I am about to do something … that will make ears tingle.” *
(*A revised version of 1 Samuel 3:10-11, with my name inserted for Samuel’s.)
Lord, Forgive me for the times I pass by the chair, and turn my back to the Voice that woos: “Jennifer! Jennifer!” Your Word is my best hearing aid. Strip me of my pride, and draw me back into Living Letters that make ears tingle. Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. Amen.”
Each Wednesday, I walk with Ann Voskamp as her community explores spiritual practices that draw us nearer to the heart of God. Today, we gather to explore: “Listening to God.” Will you join us over there? Ann “hears Him” well.