Searching for Listeners!
A battle has been going on for ages for the ears and hearts of man. The first voice man heard was that of God, but later his ears were manipulated by Satan to listen to and believe on his lies. Since that time, the battle for the ears and hearts of man has been continuously fought between God and Satan. Satan uses world and flesh, his faithful associates, also to engage in the battle for human minds. He speaks to people whether they want to listen or not and tries to attract them through crooked and crafty ways and means. He keeps speaking and comes back each time he experiences a rebuff from the listener as he is a shameless creature. On the other hand, God searches after those who are voluntarily willing to listen and obey. He doesn’t write on a screen which has messages that are unacceptable to Him. When the slate is wiped clean and prepared for divine writing, He will write on it and speak through it (Luke 14:35). Such was the life of Samuel, the prophet and priest raised up by God.
Samuel was a person who was willing to listen carefully and obey incessantly. He lived in a generation which failed God (Judges 21:25). The leadership lost spiritual vision (1 Samuel 3:2). Leaders’ children were rebellious, disobedient and abominable. It was a time when repentance and confession were unheard off in the nation of Israel. People competed among themselves to reject God’s commandments. As people’s hearts were not ready and prepared, God stopped speaking to them (1 Samuel 3:1). It was a generation which did what seemed fit in each one’s selfish mind. So God searched for fresh ears and hearts which were willing to listen so that He could speak. He wanted to find an interested, committed, willing and obedient listener. That’s what God found in Samuel whom He made a prophet, priest and kingmaker. He listened attentively and acted upon what he was told without fear or favor.
Why God speaks?
God is interested in people and in their spiritual well-being. He knows that they do not deserve His mercy. But God was pleased to speak if there was someone willing to take Him seriously. He knows the failures, weaknesses and hopeless condition of man and wants to show grace by giving man another chance. As the potter of life, He wants to make a new vessel out of each and every life ruined by sin. He is the God of the second chance and wants to rebuild people’s broken lives as He did to Jonah and Peter. He is kind, patient and long-suffering and wants to reach out to the hopeless and the useless and make good use of them. He is willing to forgive and forget the confessed and repented past and renew hopeless lives. He doesn’t give up on man on this side of eternity, but searches after those who are willing to forsake their past failures and come to Him with a desire to be rebuilt.
Who is He that speaks?
Man’s primary challenge today is to distinguish between the voice of God and that of God’s enemy and his agents.
Satan and his associates do not speak the truth. Their goal is to lure man away from God’s pathway. They want to lead man astray and push him to eternal damnation. Satan’s pathways are broad, attractive and comfortable to start with. But as man moves forward, the journey will become cumbersome, the road crooked, atmosphere tiresome, promises deceptive, and the way forward is without peace and hope. It is a pathway of discouragement and disillusionment. As man goes forward, he will find hopelessness and discontentment.
But God’s pathway is through the wilderness of this world with its toil. But the true friend of man, the Lord Jesus Christ, will be with each pilgrim. The weary traveler will be able to lean on to Jesus and find comfort, strength and hope in Him and His presence. It is a sojourn with hope in the horizon of each pilgrim. It is a walk of faith with songs even in the night. The traveler is under the shadow of the Almighty. He enjoys the cool and still waters and green pastures of the Great Shepherd.
How does God speak?
God speaks loudly just as He called out Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. His voice is heard often more powerfully than the sounds in nature (Psalms 29:3-9) which gives no excuse for anyone who has physical ears to hear. But still there are people who refuse to recognize His voice as a reality. At other times, He speaks like a friend, as He spoke to Abraham (Genesis 18:17-19). There are times when He speaks in very soft voice (1 Kings 19:12). He also speaks through the elements, circumstances, events, prophets and the written Word depending on the situation and context. The ultimate objective in all these is that man should listen and obey.
Hindrance to listening
If only hindrances to listening can be identified and removed will one be able to hear the voice of God. What then are some realistic hindrances in the life of a Youth?
· An unrepentant heart will not be in tune with God to listen to His voice. It closes one’s spiritual ears and prevents the voice of God from entering into hearts.
· Man’s pre-fixed priorities, personal likes and dislikes work to close his mind and make it non-responsive to God’s voice and His demands from human life. God wants man to give up all these and give God a free hand to use his life to like all that God likes and dislike all that God hates.
· Man must keep in abeyance all other voices which try to capture human mind, like:
Voice of the world – Vanity Fair / Materialism / Technology
i. Voice of the flesh – Desire for prestige / popularity / prominence / position / possession / pride / competition / superiority complex / jealousy / dominance / appreciation
ii. Satan – Deception / Falsification / Strife / Hatred / Accusation / Confusion / Jealousy
· Man’s stubborn will which prevents him from listening to and obeying God (Matthew 21:30-31)
· Man’s fear and apprehension about what God might ask of him blocks the voice of God from entering his heart (Luke 18:20-23)
· Man’s hypocrisy – Pseudo or false devotion, pseudo-discipleship and pretension in listening blocks God’s voice from entering his heart (Matthew 6:1-33)
· Life which quenches and grieves the Spirit of God, portrayed by an unrepentant heart prevents him from hearing God’s message (Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19)
· Lack of a servant-attitude which is exhibited through self-serving, serving the flesh, word and Satan work to block God’s message from entering his heart (John 13:1-5)
· Loss of spiritual vision takes away any desire to listen to God (Eli: 1 Samuel 3:2)
Contrast in listening
One can see a sleeping Eli on the one side and a serving and listening Samuel on the other. So Eli didn’t hear the voice of God, but a willing, committed and obedient Samuel was able to hear God. Once Samuel obeyed, God kept speaking to him (1 Samuel 3:21). Each time he heard a fresh message. Samuel spoke the whole counsel of God at a time when the high priest had no message to speak. When Samuel gave his ears and hearts to God and used it for His glory, God kept using Samuel. Samuel’s ears became God’s and his heart became God’s, like:
· Moses’ staff became God’s staff when Moses surrendered himself totally to God.
· The five loaves and two fish of the boy became Jesus’ object of blessing when the boy surrendered it to Jesus.
· When Saul surrendered himself to Jesus, his life as a murderously fierce lion was transformed into that of a lamb full of passion for Jesus.
· Elijah, Elisha and John the Baptizer became the voice of God when they surrendered to God to speak fearlessly.