It seems like such a simple test, but it’s more complicated than you might expect.
My daughter sat up in the bed in the doctor’s office for her annual checkup. She had already stepped on the scale, stood up straight and tall, and read the eye chart. Now it was time for the hearing test.
The nurse held the contraption into her ear and gave instructions. “Raise your hand when you hear the beeps.”
I know, however, from years of experience that it isn’t so easy. We’ve been through this before.
There was the time she thought that meant raise your hand when the beeps begin and keep holding it up for the whole test.
So, I say, “Now, raise your hand when you hear a beep and then put it back down again so you can raise it up when you hear the next beep. You need to raise up and down, up and down.”
There was the time that she raised her hand just two or three times for the whole test and the nurse said, “Did you hear all those beeps?”
“Yes,” my daughter answered, “but some of them were quiet.”
So, I say, “Raise your hand every single time you hear a beep, even if some are loud and some are quiet.”
Unfortunately, the whole time my oldest daughter is listening intently to beeps, my youngest two girls are trying to tell stories, sing songs, fight with each other, play peekaboo, and any other number of extremely noisy and distracting past-times.
How’s a girl to hear a quiet beep in the middle of all that noise?
Yes, the hearing test sounds so simple and always ends up so very complicated.
In Part I, I talked about how we feel sometimes like we need a microphone to broadcast our cries to heaven so God can hear us.
But, today I’m thinking about our own spiritual hearing tests and how hard it is at times to hear what God is saying.
Sometimes it’s the noisy roar of circumstances that makes God’s voice so difficult to distinguish.
That’s what had the Israelites failing their spiritual hearing exam.
Initially, when Moses appeared back in Egypt with God’s promises of hope and deliverance, “the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord had visited the people of Israel and that He had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped” (Exodus 4:31, ESV).
Then Pharaoh hardened his heart again and again. Life got harder before deliverance came.
So when Moses reassured them of God’s promise, “they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery” (Exodus 6:9).
They weren’t even listening to God’s messenger any more. They were listening to bricks and mortar, to an earthly king, to slavemasters and work orders.
God spoke hope and all they heard was hopelessness. God spoke peace and all they heard was dread and fear.
Then there are the times that we hear voices, many voices—on the radio, from our friends, in our devotions, in sermons, in books and in conversation. Which is God’s? How can we discern the sound of His beep among the confusing mess of beeping in our ears?
How do we know what God is saying?
Paul wrote, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
Whether it’s the message of salvation to a lost world or a message of peace to a hurting believer, we hear God when we are in His Word.
We always go back to the Bible. We always rely on Scripture to discern truth.
That’s what happened when Paul arrived in the city of Berea to teach the Gospel: “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11).
Notice they “examined the Scriptures every day.” The ability to discern truth doesn’t come from a random romp through the Bible every few months.
Discernment develops when we spend consistent time in God’s Word. Discernment happens when we know His character and the sound of His voice from what He has done and said over thousands of years. Discernment comes when we can lay every message beside the pages of Scripture and tell when they align and when they don’t.
Elisabeth Elliot wrote:
The Bible is God’s message to everybody. We deceive ourselves if we claim to want to hear His voice but neglect the primary channel through which it comes. We must read His Word. We must obey it. We must live it, which means rereading it throughout our lives.
We live noisy lives in a noisy world. It’s a confusing mess at times and an overwhelming cacophony in other moments.
But we know that God’s “word is truth” (John 17:17) and that “The word of the Lord holds true, and everything He does is worthy of our trust” (Psalm 33:4).
Whether we’re sifting through the sounds of circumstances or sorting through information overload, we can always trust Scripture to speak to the truth of God’s character and will.
You can read more devotionals on this topic here:
- Check out the articles from our online Bible Study on Priscilla Shirer’s Discerning the Voice of God
- Marco Polo
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2012 Heather King