Sometimes I wonder why I bother. When I answer the phone at work: ‘King of Kings Baptist Church, Tracey speaking’ I am invariably asked is that the ‘Baptist Church’ or ‘who is that speaking’? Many people just don’t seem to listen. I had the funniest wrong number at the beginning of this week. Although I went through my normal, ‘King of Kings Baptist Church, Tracey speaking’ a lady proceeded to ask me about our hydrotherapy courses. It took all my energy to tell her she has a wrong number instead of telling her that there would be a Baptism service this Sunday.
It happened to me all the time in Malawi. Often I would go to the market to buy the groceries. I would talk to the stall holders in Chichewa, yet as they were expecting English they didn’t hear what I said. Sometimes if a person doesn’t say what we expect to hear, we don’t hear what they say.
How often do we complain that we haven’t heard from God? I’m sure we all long to get a clear list of instructions, step by step telling us what to do. But often when we pray we say that God hasn’t answered. I think God speaks to us more often than we realise, but that the answer we want is not what he says, therefore we don’t hear. It is sometimes hard to remember that God can answer prayers with a ‘no’.
Sometimes we hear but we don’t listen. It happened to the man who had been blind from birth. After Jesus healed him the Jewish authorities summoned him for questioning. They didn’t like the implication of the answers he gave so they summoned him a second time:
John 9:24-27 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.” 25He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” 26Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?”
I pray that I will not be like the unbelieving Jews. I pray that when God speaks, even if it is not what I’m expecting to hear, that I would listen.
Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’