De-Clogging Our Spiritual Ears
My twin sister, Kelli, called me on the phone one day at the end of her parental rope, “I am so tired of having to repeat myself over and over again. Abe just won’t listen to me lately. ” Her four-year old son’s seemingly lack of attention span was starting to drive her nuts. UNTIL… it was revealed weeks later during a regular doctor’s check-up what was really going on. It wasn’t that Abe was purposely ignoring his mom, but his ears were clogged with fluid, preventing him from being able to hear properly.
I couldn’t help but see the spiritual parallel loud and clear, especially as I seek to re-learn the art of listening to God this season. Perhaps like my sister’s son, it’s not that we’re not listening, but our ability to hear has somehow been dulled. Perhaps there is some kind of “clogging” that is preventing our spiritual ears from being able to hear God. But what?
Continuing from the passage in James 1 last week about being quick to listen, the following verses give us some clues about what can prevent our hearing:
“Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent…” (v.21a)
The phrase ‘get rid of’ is often used to talk about moral evil and its root word is used to describe ear wax. It is no coincidence I started off this post with the story about my nephew’s clogged ears! In the same way wax or fluid can dull our hearing, sin can diminish our ability to hear God speaking to us. Powerful stuff.
This has been a reminder to me all over again as I seek to re-learn the art of listening to God. I must rid my life and my heart of all known sin! It’s perfect timing for this as springtime approaches. I don’t know about you but every year, I have to do a thorough “spring cleaning” to de-clutter my drawers, closets and shelves. It’s amazing how much excess (a.k.a. junk) can pile up in a year’s time isn’t it? My husband and I are living in a one-room flat in England right now and you wouldn’t think it would even be possible to get cluttered with the limited space we have. But to our amazement, we spent a whole day clearing out clothes in our closet and piled up papers in our drawers. Clutter is, it seems, inescapable.
It is the same in our spiritual lives. The clutter of sin inevitably creeps into the crevasses of our hearts and souls without our even knowing it half the time. If we don’t do a thorough “spring cleaning” every now and then, it will pile up and take over the good, clean healthy living space in our hearts, where we are told in the Bible God’s Spirit dwells (see John 14:16-17). It’s not that His Spirit leaves us, or seizes to speak to us, but He simply get’s covered up by other things, dulling our awareness of Him speaking to us on a regular basis.
So how can we de-clogg our spiritual ears, paving the way for excellent hearing? How can we rid ourselves of the moral filth that has sneakily and subtly piled up in our lives? Perhaps the first step is asking the Holy Spirit to search our hearts and show us whether there is any sin we have not confessed to God. I love David’s prayer in Psalm 139:
“Search me God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” (v.23-24)
When we pray this prayer, God will reveal to us the ugly, yellow, gunky “wax” that has built up over time. When we become aware of the sin in our lives, the good news is that we can confess it to God, he forgives us, cleanses us and helps us to change our ways (see 1 John 1:9). I don’t know about you, but I get excited about doing some more de-clogging…because as I clear out my spiritual ears by asking God to rid me of sin in my life, I will be able to hear what I need and long to hear from my Father, loud and clear.
How about you? In this Lenten season, what can or are you doing to de-clog your spiritual ears and rid your heart’s “closet ” of all the clutter?
Hearing from God, I am realizing, is more of a privilege than a entitlement. We know we are saved by grace and not by works, but we do have a part to play. Getting rid of our sin puts us in a position to hear from God, allowing us to enjoy it as the deep and rich privilege it is.
Now this is just one aspect of re-learning the art of listening to God. More in the coming posts as to the HOW and WHY of it all…stay tuned!