“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder.”
I’ve got a great word for you the next time you play Scrabble. It’s “otosclerosis.” And what is “otosclerosis”? The dictionary says it is hearing loss resulting from hardening of the bones in the inner ear. The “crowd” in today’s Scripture seems to have spiritual otosclerosis resulting from hardening of heart. They hear the very voice of God speaking to them from heaven and think it is thunder!
Last week in the eVotional we looked at Jesus’ warning about protecting ourselves from this kind of hearing loss “Then pay attention to how you listen, for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away” (Luke 8:18). Jesus is saying that if we do not pay attention to how we listen to God we stand to lose our spiritual hearing. We might end up hearing His voice and mistaking it for thunder.
Knowing the dangers of a loss of spiritual hearing takes us to a crucial story about a young Solomon. It is told in 1 Kings 3 that God appears to Solomon in a dream saying, “Ask what I should give you” (v.5). Before Solomon answers he acknowledges his inadequacy: “I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or to come in” (v.7). Solomon uses military language here about a king knowing how to lead an army in and of battle. He doesn’t feel up to wearing the mantle of leadership. He recognizes the enormous challenge leading “a great people, so numerous they cannot be counted” (v.8).
So when told by God to ask whatever he wants, Solomon asks God for “an understanding mind” (1 Kings 3:9), as translated in the New Revised Standard Version. The New International Version translates it “a discerning heart”, and the King James renders it “an understanding heart”. But in his Hebrew language Solomon asks God for shema lev, that is, “a hearing heart”. More than anything else, Solomon wants a heart to hear God. He wants to be open and receptive to whatever God wants to say to Him.
God is pleased with Solomon’s request for a hearing heart. The Lord commends Solomon for asking for a hearing heart rather than asking for long life, riches, and defeat of his enemies. God then granted Solomon’s request such that “People came from all the nations to hear the wisdom of Solomon; they came from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom” (1 Kings 4:34). And the rest is history as Solomon is acclaimed for a wisdom that comes only from hearing God.
Today, in our nation and in our communities, churches, and homes, we are in dire need of people who can hear God. Like Solomon, we are not up to the task before us to renew our churches, transform our homes, and be salt and light in the world. We need to hear from God!
For me personally, hearing God has to begin with repentance. Before any fancy formulas or methods, I need to repent. I need to repent for the many times I have not listened to God speaking — through Scripture, reproof by a friend, sermon, circumstances, prayerful reflection, or, even the heavens declaring God’s glory day and night! God has been speaking and I have not been listening. I must first acknowledge hearing loss, that spiritual otosclerosis has set in. This isn’t easy for me to do, but something I must do! If I am not already listening to what God has said, He has not committed to saying anything more (Luke 8:18).
Now repentant, I am ready to begin praying that powerful prayer of the little boy Samuel! Won’t you join me? “Speak LORD, for you servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10)
Grace and peace,