CHRISTIAN COMMENT Hearing but not listening

Do you ever feel that you’re talking but no-one’s listening?

OK – maybe that’s a signal to shut up. Maybe what we chunter on about isn’t adding anything to the sum of the world’s wisdom. But sometimes you know it’s the right word at the right time and …….blank.

Reception on ‘off’.

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And no, I’m not writing as someone who spends his time talking to teenagers. I’ve been through all that and I agree that there’s a time when our children are busy sorting out who they are and what life’s about – and the last thing they are programmed to ‘hear’ is Dad or Mum.

No, I’m just thinking about normal life and the difficulties we have in registering what needs to be heard.

The clearest public example this past week-end has been Sepp Blatter, the president of FIFA, with his by now notorious ‘Crisis? What is this crisis?’ response.

When your closest colleagues have been accused of criminal activity by another senior official; when your chief sponsors are getting very nervous about staying on board; when national associations are wondering aloud about your fitness to head up the world body that represents them – I’d say that was a crisis. It may be manageable, the difficulties may be surmountable – but the situation is certainly ‘critical’. So, is there anyone home?

You’ve probably had occasions when someone has shared a problem with you. You listen and sometimes – not always in my case but certainly sometimes – you can see something that might be practical help . You try to find a good moment and you start ‘Have you thought …..?’ It’s at that point the eyes glaze over and you think ‘I’m wasting my time’. Or they agree with every word – and then do the opposite.

At one point when Jesus was teaching, his disciples asked him why he put so much of that teaching in the form of stories. And why people only got the point of those stories when they’d had a bit of a think about them. Jesus said that it was because people can hear lots and lots of valuable instructions about how to live life – and it doesn’t mean a thing. They just go through the motions of listening.

Only if we really, really want some direction will listening to God make any difference. Only if we intend to do something with what he says.

If we seek him with all our hearts, he’ll answer. If we go on asking, we’ll find him.

He’s promised that.

*Nigel O’Dwyer has brought up a family and done quite a lot of teaching. He now leads a church in Goring