A few weeks ago we were all at home, just sitting in the living room when there was a noise outside the back door. My wife turned to me and asked “did you hear that?” I had and went to investigate. It turned out to be nothing more than a bullfrog trying to get the attention of the object of his affection!
But it got me thinking: Why do we ask such a question? “Did you hear that?” Do we doubt our own ears? Are we afraid we are hearing things that aren’t really there? If a tree falls in the woods… Oh, come on, that’s going too far!
While usually this question is asked over small things, in today’s Gospel Lesson the question “Did you hear that?” takes on eternal significance!
Look at Luke 8:16-21:
Jesus said: “No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a vessel, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hid that shall not be made manifest, nor anything secret that shall not be known and come to light. Take heed then how you hear; for to him who has will more be given, and from him who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.”
Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him for the crowd. And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.” But he said to them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”
He warns them and us when He says “take heed then HOW you hear…” (verse 18). In that phrase the Lord reveals not that we should avoid hearing the truth, but that “how” we hear the truth reveals the real state of our souls and our spiritual lives, our integrity, our courage, and our humility. Surrounding this phrase of the Lord’s is all kinds of wisdom and insight and “how” we hear these truths teaches us about ourselves. Even missing that insight reveals something about us to us!
So, how can we learn to “hear well?” First, it’s important to understand that “hearing well” takes attentiveness. In a world increasingly “noisy” with all kinds of voices and distractions, “hearing well” means a purposefulness that prioritizes listening to God through His Word and His Church. And attentiveness presupposes a desire to “hear well.” Let’s face it, we never rise above the level of our truest desires. Finally, to “hear well” I have to humbly love the Speaker. It’s easy to ignore someone you don’t love, and make no mistake, dear one, learning to love God is the FIRST COMMANDMENT! If you’re ever going to love God enough to prioritize His Voice (by the way, that’s a Person, not a sound!) you are going to have to actively pursue learning how to love Him, and the key to that education comes from enthusiastically doing everything to be with Him (Go to CHURCH!).
Our ability and willingness to “hear” well, to answer with courage and even joy the question “Did you hear that?!” invites us to take seriously the Light that has forever made it impossible to “hide” from the Truth. Because the implications of our willingness to “hear” well means we will be fully aware that those who do “hear” the truth and DO IT (see verse 21 where the Lord reveals that there is a family relationship that even supercedes blood relations) will lavish wisdom and spiritual treasures on the courageous hearer and doer!
Today, are you open to hearing the Truth? Do you want, desire, and long for, the fullness of wisdom that will fill your life with spiritual treasures and joy? Be careful how you answer that question, because the answer will not only mean “happy” things for you. The message of the Gospel confronts and the life of a serious disciple of Christ challenges ALL superficial joys. But the peace offered by such courageous “hearing” sets a man truly free. This freedom is costly in the terms of this present society of ease and narcissistic idolatry, but the eternal implications is that you will be a true family member to Him Who holds history and eternity in His hands! Did you hear THAT?
P.S. Have you responded to the First Annual Ministry Survey from Faith Encouraged Ministries? Fr. Barnabas is taking some time to evaluate the work we are doing, especially as we move into the production phase of our “A Journey to Fullness” outreach video project after the first of the year, God willing. Please take the time to take the Survey. You can find a link to it on our homepage at www.faithencouraged.org or, if you’re getting the daily devotionals in your email, it was sent to you! Thanks!