By Allen White
In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
“You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.”
But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it. Matthew 13:14-17
Driving a familiar stretch of road doesn’t require much thought. You know every curve and every bend in the road. Mentally, you might even check out and drive it on autopilot. Then, you wonder a few miles later, “How did I get here already?”
Once upon a time, you had to consult a map or GPS to discover this route. Now, you know it like the back of our hand.
Once upon a time, you couldn’t think of anything else but getting together with a special someone in your life. You gave him or her your full attention. You were fascinated at how you could finish each other’s sentences. Now, things are familiar. You know exactly what they’re going to say…do you have to hear it again?
Often familiarity breeds contempt. What was once an exhilarating discovery has now become “Here we go again.” For some of us, sacred things have also become familiar.
I remember a time in my life when I couldn’t get enough of the Word of God. I devoured my Bible. It is so highlighted and marked up that I can’t even use it now. But, after a while the Word of God became familiar. Bible reading can also go on autopilot. What happened?
Danger lurks when we come to believe we have it all figured out. Whether we try to text and drive or neglect our spouses, we’re headed for a wreck.
The religious leaders and others of Jesus’ day believed they had God all figured out. They felt their understanding was so complete, there was nothing else to learn. Their knowledge got in the way of their learning.
For those of us who grew up in church, we have a similar problem. All of those years in Sunday school give a sense that we’ve got it all covered. The old, old story seems sort of old. But, a childhood understanding of the Truth of God’s Word is insufficient to lead our adult lives.
Sure, Noah and the ark hasn’t changed. But, how do you reconcile that with “Noah got drunk”? (Genesis 9:21-27). We didn’t have a flannel graph lesson for that story.
Now that we’ve faced a certain amount of disappointment and unmet expectations, how do we trust God as an adult? We know what we’re supposed to believe, but what do we really believe?
If we think we’ve got the message of the Bible down pat, we might just fall into the category of “hearing but never understanding…ever seeing but never perceiving.” If we can listen to sermon after sermon, Sunday after Sunday and it makes no impact on our lives, it’s not necessarily the preacher’s fault. If the once fertile ground of our hearts has begun to harden, the Truth will just sit on the surface and have no effect.
But, there’s a way to avoid all of this. Rather than just taking in the Word with eyes and ears, the prophet added one more vital sense: our hearts. “They might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.” Our heads may understand academically, but what do our hearts understand?
When we allow God’s Word to speak deeply into our lives, we gain a new understanding of the things of God. Our life experiences add a richness to our understanding of how God works. When we once thought God would solve all of our problems, we later accept He will be with us no matter what – and that’s good enough.
How does God’s Word affect you lately? Does it inspire you to move ahead? Does it hit you right between the eyes on a failure in your life? Does God’s Word convict you of meaningless distractions and challenge you toward meaningful work?
If God’s Word is in one ear and out the other, the problem doesn’t lie with your ears. It’s a heart condition.
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