It wasn’t any medical condition. And yet, she just stared at me. I know she heard me, but she didn’t want to do what I was saying. Of course, she was only 3 years old, and 3 year olds are notorious for not being able to “hear.” at times.
It reminded me of a funny story I once heard. A man was explaining to a group of new parents that “science” has proven that the auditory nerve doesn’t fully connect to the brain in childhood year till about 22 years of age, and early on a parent has to vigorously strike the child’s buttocks to get the connection to complete! Some of the parents got it and smiled; others asked “Is this really true?”
Well, no, of course not. But what is true is that we humans have a hard time “hearing” sometimes!
Look at our lesson today in Mark 4:10-23:
At that time, when Jesus was alone, the disciples, with the twelve, asked him concerning the parable of the sower. And he said to them, “To you has been given the secrets of the kingdom but for those outside everything is in parables; so that they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand; lest they should turn again, and be forgiven.” And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown; when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word which is sown in them. And these in like manner are the ones sown upon rocky ground, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; and they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are the ones sown among thorns; they are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world, and the delight in riches, and the desire for other things, enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. But those that were sown upon the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”
And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a bushel, or under a bed, and not on a stand? For there is nothing hid, except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret, except to come to light. If any man has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Notice how the Lord deals with the desire of His disciples to understand the parable of the sower. In His response we see the difference between those who choose to hear and those who refuse to hear.
For those who choose to hear, the Lord opens up the parable and enlightens the hearers. It is in choosing to hear, to exercise my will to actively listen to wisdom that makes me the beneficiary of that wisdom. But this is harder than we might think. So many “voices” demand a hearing from us, both internal and external. And how I choose to exercise my will in deciding what voices to hear shapes and forms my life.
For those who refuse to hear, they not only don’t understand what is being said, they cannot! They have chosen selective deafness to wisdom and their lives reflect that deafness.
Notice even in the parable of the sower we see the consequences of selective hearing and deafness to wisdom. The sower shares wisdom and each group described reveals how I have either “heard” or not “heard wisdom all my life. Sometimes I hear and immediately the evil one comes and snatches it away. But that’s what the evil one does. If I would only exercise my faith, I would see him coming and protect my hearing so that I can get wisdom. Sometimes I hear wisdom and receive it with joy, but the shallowness of my heart makes a deep reception impossible. If only I would apply my efforts to cultivating the “soil” of my heart through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, I wouldn’t have so many “rocks” in my heart. Other times wisdom is drowned out because I allow my temporary troubles or temptations to “drown out” the voice of wisdom. But sometimes I see wisdom take root in the places of my heart that have been prepared by repentance, confession, and prayer and wisdom changes my life!
Today, how is your hearing? Are you willing to be a person who uses the tools of the Faith to prepare your heart to hear? Being Orthodox on Purpose means finally being able to hear God’s voice and be transformed!
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