Really Listening to God
The Sovereign LORD has spoken to me, and I have listened. I have not rebelled or turned away. - Isaiah 50:5
Isaiah 50 begins with God’s word to the prophet. He responds by saying, “The Sovereign LORD has spoken to me, and I have listened.” This captures the meaning of the original Hebrew, which uses a more striking image: “The LORD has opened my ear” (literal translation).
How I want to have my “ear” opened by the Lord! I am so aware of how easily I can miss his voice as God speaks through Scripture or through the whispers of his Spirit. Even worse, I can hear my own “voice” and attribute it to God, fabricating his blessing for my own selfish desires. Yet I know this is both wrong and foolish. Not only do I dishonor the Lord when I fail to hear him, but also I end up making choices that lead to hardship and pain. God’s ways are always the best, and I want to receive his guidance for how I live my life.
How can I be more attentive to God’s voice? In part, this comes when I extend time with the Lord in quiet and solitude. But it also happens as I gather with God’s people, where the gifts of the Spirit are active. God speaks through sermons, Bible studies, hymns, songs, and prayers. He makes his voice known through the counsel of a friend. Most of all, if I want to discern God’s voice, I must immerse myself in Scripture. Here God has spoken definitively, and continues to speak. As I read the Bible, I’m doing more than acquiring theological knowledge. I’m listening for the voice of God, so that I might believe and obey.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Are you open to hearing God’s voice? In what settings are you more attentive to God? Is God saying anything to you today? Even right now?
PRAYER: O Lord, when I read this verse from Isaiah, I yearn to hear your voice, to have my ears open to you. You know all the things that get in the way of my paying attention to you: the “noise” that surrounds me and the “voices” that echo inside of me. Of course, sometimes I don’t hear you because I just don’t take time to listen. Forgive me, Lord.
I’m reminded, Lord, of the hymn I sang as a boy. Its words convey the prayer of my heart today:
Open my ears, that I may hear
voices of truth thou sendest clear;
and while the wavenotes fall on my ear,
everything false will disappear.
Silently now I wait for thee,
ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine!*
May I be ready to hear you, dear Lord. Speak to me so that I might believe and obey. Amen.
* Verse 2 of “Open My Eyes, That I May See” by Clara H. Scott, 1895