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Having Ears to Hear

Having Ears to Hear

I know you think you understand what you heard me say, but what you don't understand is that what I said is not what I meant! Have you ever had conversations that seemed to go like that? Then there are those occasions when you confide in someone, only to get an "I hear you" response that makes you want to scream, "No you didn't!", or "That's not what I meant!" We know from our experiences as speakers and as hearers how easy it is to speak and hear words without any communication taking place. Miscommunication easily takes place because the speaker may use certain voice inflexions that can be interpreted different ways. The hearer may have his/her mind on other things or perhaps is expecting a certain message and the expectation transforms the meaning of what is actually said. Whatever the case, we all have had the experience of "not being heard.
More than once, Jesus said, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." The contexts in which we find this statement suggest that many in his audience did not have "ears to hear." They could not or would not understand what Jesus was saying. The process of comprehending what Jesus said seemed to have barriers to overcome, few of which had anything to do with the process of receiving sound waves into one's ears. There is also the text from Isaiah 6, often quoted in the New Testament, in which Isaiah is told to preach to a people who "hear but do not hear, see but do not perceive." People would not or could not truly listen and hear the message given and be changed by it.
I wonder if God ever looks down today as we are reading and reciting his Word or uttering our prayers and want to shout again, He who has ears to hear, let him hear, or perhaps That's not what I meant, when we color his words with our misconceived ideas and dogmas. There are those times when we need to put aside what we think in order to listen, really listen to what is being said. That is true when we are trying to understand God's will for our lives. It is equally true when we are trying to understand one another. The way we treat each other is probably a fair reflection of how we also go about listening to God--and vice versa! Instead of always having a ready answer, maybe we need to be a people who first have ears that always hear.
John O. York

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