More Listening Equals Less Crying

Judges 6:7-8a, 10, “Now it came about when the sons of Israel cried to the Lord on account of Midian, that the Lord sent a prophet to the sons of Israel, and he said to them, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel,… I am the Lord your God; and you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live. But you have not obeyed Me.'”

I am convinced that something biological happens during the teenage years. No, I’m not talking about puberty. I am referring to that other physical malady that strikes almost every young person between the ages of 12-18 (although for some people it happens earlier and for others it can be a life-long battle that lasts well after they have entered their adult years). Understand, I’m not pointing the finger. Not at all. I was no exception. My mother will bear testimony to the fact that I also fell victim to this tragic and devastating disease. Yes, no one seems to be exempt. What is this teenage illness to which I am alluding? Loss of hearing. I’m not sure if it is genetic or maybe just a part of puberty. But the truth of the matter is that all teens become deaf and lose their ability to listen.

Think about it. Hearing loss is the only possible explanation. Let me give you an illustration. Rather than make an example of my own two teenage daughters, I will just refer you to my own experience when I was growing up. When I was a teen my mother would push open the door to my bedroom from time to time. I imagine that from her vantage point the scene that met her eyes was probably not much different than the landscape at the local county dump. Piles of rubbish lay scattered around the room. Clothes were everywhere except in the drawer. Half-eaten food could be found under the bed and on the desk. The place was so dingy that even the dust had dust. In all honesty, it could not have been any messier if I had stood in the middle of the room and attempted to deliberately evoke such chaos.

Without fail the opening of the door was followed by the sound of my mother’s voice. In her mind the instructions she gave to me were clear. Specific. Without either confusion or complication. Just 3 simple words. No word conatined more than one syllable. No word contained more than 5 letters. “Clean your room!” She would then shut the door, leaving me to stare aimlessly at the landfill that I called a room. As much as I hate to admit it, she would return at some later point only to discover that nothing had been cleaned. If anything, the room was even messier. She must have wondered that I was an idiot. But what she didn’t realize was that I had lost the ability to listen. Yes, I had heard her. But no, I had not been listening. Tragically, every parent knows this reality. Hearing and listening are not the same thing.

In the original Hebrew language verse 10 can be equally translated as, “…you have not listened to My voice.” The people had heard God’s commands but they had not listened. Listening is always marked by an appropriate response. If I had been listening to my mother, I would have cleaned the room. If Israel had been listening to their God, they would not have embraced the gods of the Amorites. Furthermore, if Israel had truly been listening, they would have saved themselves a lot of tears. They were crying because of the consequences of their sinful choices. Ultimately, they were crying because they had not listened to God’s Word. And so, it should be obvious to see, that in this case more listening would have certainly translated into less crying.

Think about that the next time temptation comes knocking on your door. Ignoring God always comes at a high price. Yes, He is full of mercy and grace. Yes, He longs and is quick to forgive. But our choices have consequences. Sow to the flesh and you will reap destruction. The wages of sin are death. If we are willing to be honest, many of our tears are the result of a refusal to listen at some prior point. God spoke to us. His instructions were clear. Specific. Without either confusion or complication. But we didn’t listen. We made our choices. And now we are crying because of the consequences.

I want to encourage you today to put an end to the cycle in your own life. Speaking for myself, I am learning that listening today means less tears tomorrow. Or at the very least, they will be tears of joy rather then the tears of shame and pain. One of the great needs in my life is to allow God to develop within me the discipline of listening. Not just to hear His voice but also to listen. I want to be that person whose life is characterized by obedience. I am tired of the frustrations that arise from my sinful choices. I am tired of the mess that comes with the ensuing consequences. I want less tears. And for that to happen, it begins with more listening.