Is anyone else captivated by the fact that a little ping from a black box three miles deep in a 28-million-square-mile ocean can pinpoint a fallen jetliner? I find myself checking the news frequently to see how the search is going. And now that the black box batteries have died, the search enthralls me all the more for its against-all-odds chances of success in the silence.
I am also fascinated by the tenacity of the search crews who describe the work as “very slow and painstaking.” They fully expect it could take months or years to locate the jet. Nonetheless, they have pulled out all the stops and aren’t going to stop trying.
Sometimes when I’m straining my ear to hear my Shepherd’s voice, I feel like those search crews. I’m listening in the silence, not knowing which way to turn my ear; then, out of the blue, I hear a still, small—something. Until it stops. And then I might as well be trying to hear a deep-sea jellyfish hiccup. God seems quite out of reach.
One of those days
Today is one of those days when I’m not hearing so well. Literally. I have a cold, and colds almost always plug my ears.
I went to my doctor this morning. Actually, I already had an appointment scheduled for a physical, so I figured this was a great opportunity to get some help for my ears as well.
I arrived at the office, hopeful. My doctor peered into my ears (and also probed my nose, at which point I had this random thought that I’m kind of glad I don’t do what she does for a living). Her conclusion: Looks fairly clear. Why don’t you just wait it out for a few days? If it doesn’t get better we’ll see what we can do.”
What to do with plugged-up ears
So here I sit a few hours later, typing a post for this website called The One Voice That Matters, and not hearing very well. Literally and figuratively. Lord, what do You want me to write about? Long pause… Nope, I got nothing.
We sheep of our Shepherd just don’t hear well sometimes. His voice may seem to us like a ping at the bottom of the ocean, barely discernible. Or it may seem like a rumble from a far-off mountain, thunderous but indistinct. It may even seem dead-battery silent.
The good news is that this isn’t permanent hearing-impairment. Like my cold-caused hearing loss, we don’t need to panic. Jesus says several times in the Gospels, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” It’s an assumption that we have ears, and that we will hear (eventually) if we listen.
In the meantime there are several things we can do:
- Keep listening for our Shepherd’s voice
- Don’t stop talking to Him
- Trust Him to speak at the right time and in the right way
- Check to see if anything is clogging our ears (is there something in our heart that is bigger than God Himself right now—something we’re unwilling to give up? something demanding all of our attention?)
- Let Him do whatever work He is doing in us as we wait (is He forging our faith? strengthening our resolve? quieting our spirit? preparing us for a surprise around the corner?)
Pings and pinnacles
Friends, take heart. His voice follows us to the remotest part of the sea (Psalm 139:9). It reaches down to us from the highest mountain (Psalm 121:1-2). If we keep our ear tilted toward that sound—no matter how faint the ping or how indistinct the rumble—He will open our ears to hear and understand His heart. May we be able to say, as David did:
When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You,
“Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.”
I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord.
(Psalm 27:8, 13-14)