I’ve heard it said that God’s word is rhema; that is, “It is a word that signifies the action of utterance (my emphasis),” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhema. Not superfluous, surface, or meaningless words. So I submit that neither can we listen passively; rather we should be active listeners expecting God’s word to bear fruit. It is usually easy, at least in America, to hear God’s word spoken, written, paraphrased, and even misquoted. Childhood songs like “Jesus Loves Me,” or “This Little Light of Mine,” are tunes familiar in many homes, daycare centers, and after-school programs. And though I take the words directly quoted from the Holy Bible to be true, I am not always likely to grasp the fullness or the revelation of those words because of familiarity, disassociation, or resistance.
Eliphaz lacked ears to hear God’s heart for loving one’s neighbor as he loves himself. Quoting Scripture, Eliphaz instead talked the entire time; accusing, pronouncing judgment, and mocking suffering Job, who sought to only speak truth. How often, I too have thought, “I’ve got this,” and used the Sword of the Spirit to slash away at imagined demons in the mist only to find wounded innocents in the clearing.
Jesus said in Luke 8:10, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables that ‘Seeing they may not see, And hearing they may not understand.’” I wonder how many of the over 800,000 words, reportedly printed in several versions of the Bible, (words are like seeds), have found root in my own soul’s soil. “The ones by the wayside hear, but the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts. The ones on the rock hear and receive with joy, but have no root and are tempted away. The ones among the thorns hear but the word is choked out by cares, riches, and pleasures of life. The ones who hear with a noble and good heart keep the word and bear fruit with patience (Luke 8:11-15).” Without revelation, I stumble over chapters and verses that do not seem relevant to my modern-day world. Yet, how amazing to hear someone preach on the same passage of Scripture in a way that illuminates God’s will and exponentially increases my faith.
I think my worst error in experiencing the active voice of God is resistance. I may listen to, understand, and even set out on my calling from God. Then I behave much like Moses early in his mission. God called Moses to lead His people out of Egypt. Moses heard these words – “Tell Pharaoh, ‘Let My people go.’” Yet when Pharaoh did not listen to Moses, but ordered more hard labor from the Israelites, Moses complained to God, “Why have You brought trouble on this people? Why is it You have sent me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done evil to this people; neither have You delivered Your people at all.” Just a little resistant? Not a burning bush, not having Aaron by his side, not even given miraculous powers could stop Moses from complaining. I, too, find myself questioning why I struggle in the midst of doing God’s will.
I want to be like the Apostle Paul. He writes to the Corinthians that since he received God’s calling to be a minister of the gospel, he listened to God, and with overwhelming passion, ran “with certainty.”
Lord God, You are a God of great compassion. Forgive me for listening half-heartedly, for failing to seek Your deeper truth, and for resisting Your calling. More importantly, open my ears to hear Your voice and embolden me to do Your will. In Christ’s name.
All Scripture quoted from The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.