Chris caught a glimpse of his own irritated expression in the rear-view mirror while he backed out of the driveway. Cute? Cindy said I looked cute?
He grumbled mentally over the embarrassment of his wife’s discovery during his private Bible study before work. It wasn’t his idea to literally go through the motions of putting on God’s armor according to Ephesians 6:13-18. He was doing what he was told.
Up until a year or so, Chris wouldn’t have recognized the voice of God instructing him to do such a thing. When others said God spoke, Chris smiled on the outside, but scoffed to himself on the inside.
Then he finally gathered the gumption to ask Dave, a respected friend, “You’re always saying God told you this or that, but He never speaks to me. Am I doing something wrong?”
His buddy laughed and clapped him on the shoulder, “Take the wax out of your ears.”
Stinging from the perceived insult and lack of helpful information, Chris scowled and turned to walk away.
“I’m sorry,” Dave pleaded. “I didn’t mean it the way it sounded. My laughter’s directed at myself, not you. Promise.”
Unconvinced, Chris waited to walk.
“Wax in the ears is a private joke between me and Jesus. When I laid down my stubborn pride and asked Him why I couldn’t hear Him, the first thing I clearly heard was, “Take the wax out of your ears.”
Chris began to fidget. Not sure where this conversation was going, but very sure it felt awkward. All he wanted was a straight answer, a quick solution, not some silly story.
Dave seemed to sense the unease, and became very serious. “Here’s the deal. A relationship with Christ is like a relationship with your wife. Let’s say you hurt your arm, and Cindy gives you directions to get to the doctor’s office, but you’re engrossed in thought about the pain. You aren’t paying attention while she talks. Actually, you’re so deeply checked out that you don’t even realize she’s talking. Could you follow her instructions to the doctor’s office?”
“Not really. But I’d look it up online.”
“You’re right. You could look for the information somewhere else. But would your behavior draw your wife closer or push her away?”
“She’d get mad.”
“And if the tables were turned, wouldn’t you?”
Chris bobbed his head up and down twice.
“If you continue to ignore her when she tries to tell you important information, how do you think she’d react?”
“She’d probably badger me to listen, finally get mad, and then give me the silent treatment.”
“So if all this happened, what started the rift in your relationship?”
“I guess me by not listening the first time.”
“Exactly. Now, what if you listened, but you blew off her instructions? What if you treated her like she didn’t know what she was talking about? How would she respond?”
“Pretty much the same way. She’d withdraw.”
“Do you enjoy your wife more when she’s withdrawn or engaged with you?”
“When she’s happy I’m happy.”
“Then it’s up to you to start things off right. Unplug your ears and listen. You engage, and she’ll stay engaged.” Dave leaned and whispered conspiratorially, “Hearing God works the same way. Listen to Him. If you don’t understand something, ask Him to clarify. Don’t chase answers like a dog chasing its tail. Go to the Bible.”
Chris shuffled his feet, “How do I know everything in there is true?”
“Have you read it?”
“Not the whole thing, but some of it.”
“The first thing I ask anyone who questions the validity of the Bible, is if they’ve read it, all of it. Fifteen minutes a day can improve your life. If you aren’t sure you believe what it says, don’t be afraid to ask Him to prove its truth. Then look for confirmation and decide for yourself. If I’m wrestling with a big issue, and want certainty, I can count on getting the same message at least three distinct times, from different sources, but at least one must originate in His word.”
The two men started walking toward the door in contemplation. They stepped into a bright sunlit day, and a warm breeze fluttered through Dave’s hair when he faced Chris and spoke again, “There isn’t anything magical about getting a message three times. Until I became accustomed to hearing God’s voice I needed assurance. Now, I mostly recognize Him the first time. And if something doesn’t match what He says in the Bible, I know Satan’s trying to deceive me. The wax in my ears was spiritual.”
That one conversation changed Chris’s life for the better. He went home and tried Dave’s advice. To his surprise, Chris found much of what he’d been looking for. This God stuff really seemed to work.
A blasting horn shook Chris back to present reality. He’d pulled into the parking lot at work, where John grinned and waved four cars over.
Chris inhaled slow, and reflected on securing the spiritual armor of God. He closed his eyes, adjusted the invisible belt of truth around his waist, and grabbed the handle to open the car door. Similar to his experience during Bible study, a voice spoke inside his head. But the tone differed.
Do you really think you can make a difference? Who do you think you are? What about the mistakes you’ve made? You’ve lied, stolen, done things to your wife. You should be ashamed, thinking you can tell others anything. If you try, you’ll only hurt yourself. Better off just keeping your mouth shut.
Anita FreshFaith @ Work
Isaiah 42:20 (NIV)
You have seen many things, but you pay no attention; your ears are open, but you do not listen.”
Anita Agers-Brooks is a Business Coach, Certified Personality Trainer, Communications Specialist, speaker, and writer. She lives in Missouri with her family.