In the previous post, I tried to mirror Dr. Willard’s thought that God is not some unapproachable authority figure, God is not some celebrity with all kinds of barriers between Him and you. God can be reached.
Today we consider that God does speak.
The problem is on our end.
For every communication to occur there must be a message sender and a message receiver.
Let’s just say that God is trying to get His messages to us. Willard poses several reasons why they are not getting through.
We are unable to focus or we are using selective listening. What do these things mean. Being a student of human communication, I know a little about how the human mind processes information. We don’t get it all. On the face, that is a simple statement but it is a true one. I would contend that today, it is even more true. On any given day, we are bombarded by communications of many types—face to face human interaction, speaker to group communication, person[s] to human television messages, cell phone interaction, text interaction, e-mail interaction, social media interaction in possibly many forms etc. I guess by now you get my point. Communication comes at us all day, every day, every hour, every minute. It is so common to be in a meeting with people and devices go off. They are signally a call or a text and suddenly attention is taken off the group leader and attention goes to the phone.
How does this relate to God?
Is God sending us messages and we lose them in the booming, fast-paced world of communication today?
The short answer…probably.
Selective listening is a second problem. Selective listening is our effort to cut down on the amount of communication that bombards us.
How does it work?
We attend to messages that are “relevant” for us and let the other ones pass. By “pass” I mean that they are there but we ignore them. We “select” the ones that we think are most important.
Let me give you an example. Maybe you are in a noisy environment, say a restaurant. Lots of people are talking and the place is getting a little loud. You can’t distinguish all the conversations. Suddenly you hear your name; your name. It happens. Since it is your name, you attend to it. Why did it happen? Because as humans we are pretty self-centered. Well if you have a pretty common name like mine “David”, it has happened. If your name is Festus, it probably hasn’t.
We know that information that is important to us gets our attention. You are lost, you pay attention to someone giving you directions. You need to know how to operate a technical device, you pay attention to the person giving you operational instructions. If you are extremely hungry, you listen to where the nearest source of food is. We could go on and on, but you get the point.
What about all those other messages that are coming at you?
You ignore them to take care of the most relevant need that you have at that moment.
Well, we should reword that.
You ignore them to take care of the most relevant need that you think you have at that moment.
What if it is God trying to communicate to you?
What if you don’t think you need Him [He is not relevant at that moment]. God’s messages will get lost in the shuffle of messages that are coming at you.
You ignore them for other concerns.
Let’s back up a bit.
What if you think you don’t need Him.
My goodness, that is the crux of the matter for lots of people. That was the crux of the matter for me. For many years I thought I did not need Him. I was doing all right by myself, cruising along under my own power.
Then it all came to a screeching halt.
God picks His time and His time is always right. For me, I began to attend to some of his messages at the ripe old age of 44. Some would call me a “late bloomer”.
I don’t call myself a late bloomer.
I call myself fortunate.
As I look back on my life, I know that He was trying to catch my attention much earlier in life but I was losing them in all the other messages I was getting. I also know that His messages did not seem that important until I was 44.
Many people who describe the communication process do so erroneously. The say to another person, you are not “hearing” what I am saying. That is incorrect. If a person has working ears [no impairment] they are indeed hearing your message. All the inner ear parts are vibrating. What someone should say to someone who is not getting your message is that “you are not listening to me”. They are not processing your message with their brain. They are not actively decoding the words you are expressing. They may be paying attention to many other messages or other competing stimuli. They are ignoring your message.
Before 44, I was hearing God.
I just was not listening…