Are you listening?

I read a story about a small child who was sledding.  The thought came to him to stop because the hill had become too icy.  He didn’t listen and went down the hill anyway.  He tumbled and was hurt.  He told his mother that God had told him not to, but he didn’t listen.

One time I wanted to get to a planned event more quickly than time allotted. I decided to take a short cut.  The thought came to me not to do it because I wasn’t sure of the shorter route.  (We didn’t have GPS at the time.)  I did it anyway, got lost, and arrived at the function later than if I had taken the more certain route.

In Biblical times prophets talked with God as easily as we talk with one another.  Even today we can do this, but we do have to listen.  Whether it is God one calls upon for direction, intuition, or another name for a power higher than our own, He does speak with us.  But are we listening?  Some of us are.

And, some of us aren’t.  According to the Conflict Research Consortium at University of Colorado, poor listening skills can be attributed to persons assuming they already know what is going to be said and are formulating their responses before what is actually being said can be heard.  One may also assume he is not going to agree with what is going to be said before it is heard and develops a “hostile and distrustful” attitude.  Even “clear messages tend to be ignored or disregarded if they are inconsistent with one’s original negative view.”  (1)

“If the listener is not willing to receive that information,…the communication will fail,” the Consortium continues.

Mary Baker Eddy, the author of the best selling book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures states, “Spirit, God is heard when the senses are silent.” (2) The senses referred to here might be: preconceived ideas that clamor for attention; arguing, or chaotic thinking going on around us; listening to gossip; the desire to do what we want for personal gain, whether it be greed, fame, etc.

Fear of ridicule, failure, tarnished reputation, or exclusion may also play a part in ignoring the voice within.

These two incidents mentioned above had minor consequences.  There are other times when the decision not to listen could have more serious results.

When Herod wanted to destroy Jesus because he was afraid of losing the kingdom to him, he sent men to kill all the children two years and under living in a particular area.  In the meantime, “an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph,” Jesus’ father, telling him to take his family to Egypt until the time to come back was right. (3)  Joseph obeyed and Jesus was saved.

I have often thought that the angel or intuitive command didn’t just come to Joseph but to all the parents who had young children in the same area.  Joseph was listening.  Others were not.

(1)   Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, Poor Listening Skills

(2)   S&H 89:20-21

(3)  Matthew 2:13

The top photo by niclindh and the bottom photo by highersights was uploaded from flickr.com

Kate Johnson is a Christian Science practitioner and the media, legislative and public contact for Christian Science in the state of Maryland.  She is married and has 4 grown and married children and 2 grandchildren.  She and her husband enjoy hiking, especially with Callie, a Blue Heeler, and riding motorcycles.  She also has the best and most courageous cat, Cleo, who is best friends with a beagle named Maple.  Kate is interested in blogging about health, spirituality, Christian Science, science, the importance of prayer and religion.


2 Comments

  1. To a certain extent I believe we can train ourselves to be better listeners. Throughout school, be it elementary or graduate, I was able to learn best by listening to the teachers/professors rather than through reading the textbooks. Admittedly, I honed that skill because I was too lazy to read, it was just easier to listen. But those human voices were clear to me and I could understand and retain what was said.

    If I had also learned to listen as well to the “little voices”, especially as a child, I wouldn’t have as many scars. While I knew many activities were stupid, even potentially life threatening, I did them anyway. Hopefully, I have better “hearing” now.

    • I love your comment. We do progress in our listening skills. Sometimes, we do learn most from our mistakes.