Devotion for the Week...
Last Sunday my pastor shared a message on prayer in which he said, almost as an aside, "There's a real difference between hearing and listening, isn't there?"
I immediately thought of an article I read a few years ago, about a woman who had cochlear implant surgery as an adult. I certainly don't understand the science of it, but cochlear implants allow people who are deaf (or almost deaf) to hear. I know two kids who have cochlears, but their surgeries were done when they were babies, so they won't remember a time when they couldn't hear. This woman does, though.
I don't remember many details about the article, like the woman's name or even what magazine it was in, but I do remember being fascinated by her experience. She found that for months after the surgery she would hear a noise and jump up, startled by the sound, only to realize it was the fridge or a plane overhead or some other 'background' noise that hearing people had learned to tune out a long time ago. She had to learn to tune out the background sounds too.
How many sounds do we hear each day, without really listening to them? There's not only the fridge and planes overhead, but also traffic going by, dogs barking, neighborhood kids playing outside, clocks ticking, wind through trees...The list goes on and on. We hear all of those things, but we aren't always aware that we're hearing them because they aren't sounds that matter at that moment.
Every September I go away for a weekend with my mother-in-law and my two sisters-in-law for a women's retreat. For meals we have to stand in line and it is noisy! Whenever one of us wants to say something, the other three of us have to lean in to listen or we'd never hear the words over the constant hum of other voices.
Well, last week, when Pastor Greg said there's a big difference between hearing and listening, he was speaking about Jeremiah 29:12, "Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you." He listens to our prayers. He doesn't just hear them as background noise, without paying attention to what we say. He is leaning towards us, paying close attention, listening.
God is actively paying attention to our concerns, our thoughts and our praise. He doesn't tune us out. He doesn't only pay attention when nothing is distracting Him, or when He's not listening to someone more interesting. Each and every one of us, whenever we pause for a moment (or an hour) to talk to God about whatever is on our minds, He focuses on us and takes in everything we have to say.
Just think about that this week. God listens to us.