If we have a digital mail account, we know what spam is. Our “in” boxes can fill rapidly. Most learn to set filters to reduce what we actually see. We teach our mail programs to filter our marketing and other such messages which are the bane of digital life. “Trash” or “Spam” filters are our first defense against unappreciated messages.
With a stretch, these digital filters might be seen as the digital equivalent of what mothers go through with the teen-age onset of “mother deafness.”
Researchers suggest that this is related to a hunger to explore our world. We become more interested in exploring the world outside the home as part of the process of “growing up”. We quite literally “tune out”.
Thankfully, at some point, we mature to say, “As my mother always said…“
Let’s explore biblical variations of “God deafness” similar to “mother-deafness” or deafness to spam.
“God deafness” in our bible
Some did not recognize God’s voice because they did not expect to hear God without blaring trumpets. Others resisted or argued with God.
- The Pharaoh of Egypt refused to listen to Moses when he spoke on behalf of God.
- Moses argued with God when he was called to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.
- Job argues with God after suffering a series of devastating losses.
- Jonah continually refused to accept God asking him to preach to the people of Nineveh.
- Moses was not prepared to hear God in a burning bush.
- Balaam did not recognize that God was speaking to him through his donkey
- The Pharisees could not hear God speaking through Jesus.
- At the well, the Samaritan woman had to be told her sins before recognizing Jesus.
- The disciples before Pentecost often did not understand what Jesus was teaching them about being the “suffering servant”
- After his resurrection, Mary could not recognize Jesus at first
- Neither did the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They did not connect the dots until Jesus showed them.
- Saul of Tarsus twisted God’s word into a justification for persecuting Christans.
God speaks to us today
- The first act of divine revelation is creation itself. The first Bible is the Bible of nature. written at least 13.8 billion years ago.
- God has given us a sense of right and wrong in our conscience.
- Music and art can take us out of selves. “Amazing Grace” has been a source of inspiration and comfort to countless people.
- Prayer is a two-way conversation with God. But do we ever stop talking or asking?
No wonder we read in the New Testament
“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.” Heb 1:1
Which of these ways have you experienced?
The dictionary … tool for improving our hearing?
Over fifty years ago, Fr. Jim Reese, a well-respected scripture scholar, shared with his colleagues in the Theology Department at St. John’s University a game he played to sharpen his hearing of the many ways God can speak to us. I call it the “dictionary game.”
He would open the pages of his dictionary and move his finger down the page. When something caught his eye, whether a noun, adjective, or verb, he would pause to let the image sink in. Then he would ask himself what he could learn about God.
In later years, I realized that Jesus often did something similar… “the Kingdom of God is like…”