I love the truth of Isaiah 40:8, and that declaration that the word of God ‘will stand forever’, but even ever-lasting words can sometimes be drowned out by day-to-day noise. Shouted, whispered, conversational demands to listen.
As streams of words filter in, coming from different sources and landing in our ‘listening inbox, we begin to evaluate which utterances win a listening, and maybe even a nod of agreement. Every now and then, something we read or hear may just sit and unsettle, and begin to change the way we think or feel.
I’ve always been mocked by an old friend for my lack of adventure when it comes to trying new food. I hope I’m more willing now to eat whatever is put in front of me, but previously it came down to my literal ‘gut’ instinct. If I had never eaten it, and it didn’t look appetising then I would reject it before it had come anywhere near my mouth. Tuna, french toast and trifle have all been victim to this ‘gut’ rejection. You’ll be glad to hear that all but the trifle have been given a second chance and made it past a wrinkled nose of disgust! I stand by my first response to trifle!
As we assess the flood of voices clamouring for a hearing, some won’t make it past the first audition as we decide that the source, or the opinion, are contrary to what we believe and how we live. Gut reactions often rule.
If it’s not about our gut, maybe it’s about the origin of the voice.
Parenting dilemmas range from getting the newborn to sleep, the toddler to eat anything other than cheese and persuading a teenager to communicate. And I’m sure I’m not the only one to have risked the minefield that comes from googling parenting questions. Within seconds, the screen fills up with advice, people, organisations and even algorithms who claim to have the magic formula that will be the silver bullet.
But I hesitate to click, and pause before following any advice, because I want to know where that voice comes from – who is speaking, what’s their qualification, what are their beliefs about life, childhood and parenting. Turns out, as many older folk will no doubt testify, it’s much better to ask someone you know!
A friend and I were chatting yesterday, over a bowl of carrot soup (‘it’s so good, it’s really really good’, Rufus pleasingly interjected a few times), and reflecting on the idea of being only loosely attached to our plans rather than holding onto them tightly. As a new Christian, she has, in some ways, been ‘auditioning’ God to see if she should really, ‘whole life and future’ style, trust Him. Whether it was gut instinct or received wisdom that was winning before, God’s word seems to have usurped other voices as the one to trust as she begins to believe He knows best – maybe even better than us.
Watching my friend digest and respond to God’s word, I’m struck by how often she says that it makes sense. It’s as if her gut reaction is shaped by her growing understanding of the God who spoke those everlasting words. Coloured by God’s character, hued with sacrificial love, abundant kindness and all-knowing wisdom, the words are vibrant, unmissable and compelling.
Words that nudge hustling voices into the background, and lovingly, winsomely demanding a hearing.