God has to get my attention


It was prayer meeting day, the perfect time to examine personal conviction. Probably even a better time not to pick a fight with my Sweet Al — but it was inevitable.
I caught Al mid-snooze as he sat propped up in his overstuffed leather recliner with the television blaring.
“What is the television doing on? No one is watching it.”
Al turned his head toward me, half opened his good eye and said, “I thought I was.”
I took the remote and turned off the TV. “But, you’re not. I am overdosing on news while you doze off through the noise. I’ve heard that same news over and over. We don’t need the television on all morning. The noise is driving me crazy. I need peace for my soul and I need to be ready for a prayer meeting.”
“You’re fanatical and are getting so touchy.”
I gave the remote back to my Sweet Al and said, “I can show you touchy. You’re not going to like it.”
Al put his recliner upright then trained his focus on me. “You’re not listening to me. If it is about one of your articles or meetings, then you are all ears. If it’s something important to me, something that helps me set up my day, then it’s just noise. I always thought it was interesting that Jesus said, ‘If you have ears to hear …’ Maybe, we need to listen more for carefully for things not always heard.”
And that was the way the day started.
As I sat in my prayer meeting, my friend leaned over and said, “I don’t think you hear me. Do you have your hearing aids on? You’re always speaking over me.”
“Of course, I have them on and I can hear just fine.” Then I thought to myself, I guess I do over talk everyone. “I am sorry.”
“It’s OK.”
I have been known to butt in, or even steer a conversation in the direction I want it to go. It’s a wonder why my friend is still my friend and my Sweet Al is still my husband. During the prayer meeting, my friend needed to be heard without interruption. Earlier in the day, my husband needed to hear the news, even if it was just helping him plan out his day (or sleep).
During the meeting, we got on the subject of hearing from God. I started thinking about how often God speaks to me, but I don’t hear because I am not listening. Suddenly those sobering life moments that jolt me to my feet make perfect sense. After all, God has to get my attention somehow.
With or without the need for hearing aids, we probably all have our own problems with listening. My Sweet Al is right. I hear plenty good when those around me talk about something that is important to me. But I may not always listen, and sometimes get annoyed in the process, when the topic is different from where my heart or mind is.
It is familiar with where I see the world today. How many times do we see problems arise from the smartest person in the room? You know, the one who doesn’t care to listen to anyone else. We see it every day. People get so engaged in a conversation that focuses on themselves, and forget to listen to those around them.
Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset said, “Tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you who you are.”
In the book “Whisper,” Mark Batterson wrote, “You will eventually be shaped in the image of the loudest voice in your life.”
Both quotes seem to hit on truth. I know that I tend to be attracted to the loudest voice in the room, especially when it’s mine. I am smart enough to know just how much trouble I can get myself in when I rely solely on myself. I also know that my wisdom, my talents and my priorities are best shaped when I incorporate those around me, most certainly from the one that created me.
Final brushstroke: My Sweet Al got a perfect score on his hearing test a few months ago, yet he can’t hear me. Maybe there is something he is listening for that is so much more important than mere words. Maybe he is being shaped by influences that bring wisdom, instead of by those who only want self-glory. It seems that I am no longer the smartest person in the room, something I am in complete acceptance of as I understand who I am, in lieu of just being heard.
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