God, The Great Listener
The God who speaks is also God the Great Listener.
One of my own morning prayers, one I repeat often at a certain time of year is from Psalm 116:
I love the Lord, because he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me
I will call on him as long as I live.
The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came upon me;
I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
“O Lord, save me.”
That prayer came to me in April of 2003, almost exactly a year after I had both prostate cancer and a heart attack within a few weeks of each other. During those weeks I cried out to the Lord.
A year later, fully recovered, I looked back and could say with great thanks to the God who listened:
For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the Lord
in the land of the living.
God is Not Deaf
Deafness is a profoundly isolating affliction. Those who have been cut off from normal conversation by the loss of hearing often say they would prefer to lose eyesight rather than hearing. It is a choice I would not want to have to make.
But God is not deaf. Elijah taunted the prophets of Baal because their god Baal might have lost his hearing, and told them shout louder to get his attention. But Elijah’s God answered his servant with fire on the altar, and he is a God who “makes the deaf to hear,” sang Charles Wesley.
God is not deaf – but somedays I am! With all noise I may not hear. I need to keep in mind the great testimony of Isaiah:
The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue,
to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.
The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears,
and I have not been rebellious;
I have not drawn back. Isaiah 50:4-5
What a joy when the God who hears also opens our ears so we can say with E.E. Cummings:
now the ears of my ears are awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened.
Walking on Water 9