Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Hearing and the Holy Spirit

You may have heard it said that a blind person has more sensitive hearing, touch, taste or smell than a seeing person. Technically, the senses themselves are not sharper, but the perceptions of the sensations are. People who are blind at birth or at an early age tend to get better at accessing and interpreting information coming from their other four senses. (See this article in
Scientific American for more information.) It appears that the brain 're-wires' itself to use the information from remaining senses more effectively. So while a blind person cannot hear better than a sighted person, he or she is usually better at making use of the information coming from their hearing or sense of touch.

Is there a spiritual meaning here? Let's assume that any two Christians want to be led by the Spirit. Since they both have the Holy Spirit living in them, (Romans 8:9) there should be no difference in the Spirit speaking to them. But it appears that one of them regularly gets more nudges than the other. What might be the difference? Like in the physical sensory issue, the difference is in perception -- how attuned that person is to what he or she is receiving. While the Spirit may decide to give the same gift to you and someone else you know, one of you may 'hear' better and be able to act more promptly on what the Spirit is saying. This reminds me of Revelation 2:7, "Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches."

The Spirit gives each of us a slightly different mix of gifts and abilities (1 Cor 12:11). And we're encouraged to exercise those gifts for the good of all (verse 7). So if you don't feel you are hearing clearly from God about your gifts and how to respond to them, what can you do?

First, ask (Matt. 7:7-8). God desires to give to you more than you desire to receive from him! Next, it might help to learn some listening exercises like silence and solitude, getting away from it all and paying more attention to him than to distractions. It would also help to be mentored by someone with more experience and wisdom about hearing from the Lord and responding. A deep spiritual friendship with a fellow Christian can make a huge difference in one's maturing! And of course there are dozens of books on the market about spiritual giftedness and learning to listen to God. A good book on prayer that includes instruction on silence during prayer could be helpful.

You really can sharpen your 'spiritual hearing' with practice. And by doing so, you'll also be a greater blessing to someone else around you.

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