Jennifer Slattery Christian Blog and Commentary

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One of Our Greatest Hinderances to Hearing God

  • Jennifer Slattery

    Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who co-hosts the Faith Over Fear podcast and, along with a team of 6, the Your Daily Bible Verse podcast. She’s addressed women’s groups, Biblestudies, and…

  • Published Dec 18, 2017

Distractibility is one of my biggest weaknesses. Selfishness is my second. Left unchecked, these character flaws hinder my relationships and has hurt those I love. We all know how it feels to be engaged in a conversation with someone and have the “listener” mentally check out, or tune us out.

It’s really hard to maintain a relationship based on one-way conversations.

A few months ago, after being on the receiving end of conversation-distraction, I started mentally fuming. About halfway through my internal rant, God pricked my spirit with a gentle yet clear reminder of how many times I’d done the same to Him. Of how many times I’ve either ignored His soft voice or checked out in the middle of prayer.

Then there have been times when I heard Him but acted as if I hadn’t. Especially if He was calling me to do something frightening or difficult.

That was how I responded when I first sensed the call to write. God had made Himself incredibly clear–He wanted me to write, full time, for Him. With no guarantee of publication. For all I knew, every word I typed could remain, forever, locked within my keyboard.

But that wasn’t what bothered me most. What made me queasy was the realization that should God expand my reach, readers would potentially learn of my shameful past.

So I told God no.

Not outright. I wasn’t that … openly rebellious. Rather, I pretended not to hear. I asked for clarification, then confirmation, then more clarification.

But I knew what God wanted, and Scripture says, “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it” (James 4:17).

The more I ignored God’s voice, the less I was able to hear Him. As a result, my relationship with Christ became increasingly distant, and as it did, my world grew darker and darker.

“That is why the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today when you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested Me in the wilderness'” (Hebrews 3:7-8).

I experienced divine silence for about a year, until one day, I’d had enough. I knew, regardless of what lay ahead, I couldn’t live without experiencing God’s daily presence. 

I can’t imagine what it felt like for the Israelites to endure 400 years of divine silence. By the time John the Baptist came on the scene, everyone was anxiously awaiting the prophet who would foretell the coming of the Savior. That was John’s role–to proclaim the arrival of Christ and help prepare people’s hearts to receive Him.

As Isaiah, an Old Testament prophet said, speaking of John, “He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming! Clear the road for Him! The valleys will be filled, and the mountains and hills made level. The curves will be straightened, and the rough places made smooth'” (Luke 3:4b-5 NLT).

In this passage, Isaiah is making an analogy for how John would “prepare the way” for the coming Lord by helping remove the obstacles, such as sin and hard-heartedness, that could keep the people of Israel from receiving God’s salvation message.

Each day, countless roadblocks distract me and dull my hearing. Therefore, I need to regularly quiet my thoughts and woman reading Scripture my heart so that I can rest in God’s presence and hear, truly hear, what He’s wanting to say.

What about you? What are your typical “hearing roadblocks” and what are some ways you counter them? Consider this statement: The more we respond to God’s voice, the better we’re able to hear Him. The more we ignore His voice, the more dulled our hearing becomes. Do you agree or disagree, and why?


Image by Josh Applegate on Unsplash