The Ears of Your Heart (Lane)
The Ears of Your Heart
by Lonnie Lane
My granddaughter, age 14, and her brother, age 12, had not been getting along. Both now entering their teenage years, they found each other, well, intolerable. My daughter, their mother, at a loss as to how to stop the constant bickering asked God what to do. Tell them to pray for each other, came the answer. So she told them that before bed each night they were going to pray for each other. Prayer was not a new thing in their home, but they’d never prayed for each other before. And so it began. The initial prayers went something like: “Help him not be such a jerk.” Or, “Make her stop hogging the telephone.” But eventually they began to pray more ‘for’ each other than against and prayers such as for help with each other’s science tests began to emerge. It was not long before their entire relationship began to change. They even began to enjoy each other. Evidently, the Spirit of the Lord was changing their hearts as they prayed for one another.
I remember when one of my daughters who shall remain nameless was about thirteen and having what could be considered a temper tantrum, crying and angry. I was at a loss as to how to calm her, so before I lost my own temper I sent up an emergency prayer to the Lord. “Help, Lord. How do I get her under control?” The answer: Ask her if something is scaring her. So I did. In mid-tantrum she came to a complete halt, looked at me for a moment wide-eyed, then crumbled into my arms and began to sob out to me what was frightening her. The anger was a cover up for her feelings of vulnerability but she didn’t know it until I asked her the question.
It’s a wonderful thing to have the advice of an expert, someone wise and experienced in the ways of life. But how much more to have the input from the Lord. Who could, after all, be more wise then He? Who knows more of what’s in our hearts than He? What’s more, God is practical.
One thing about the Hebrew way of thinking, it too is practical. Down to earth. Feet on the ground. Realistic. That’s because God gave the Torah to Israel to teach them how to live wisely in all aspects of life. The author of the book of Hebrews informs us that “…the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit… and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12 – my emphasis).
When that was written there was no New Testament. The only Scriptures were the writings of the Old Covenant. These Scriptures have the power to cause the motives of our hearts to be exposed to us so that we can be right with God. When God reveals something needing adjustment in our lives, He’s there to help us with it. All He requires is that we repent. That means we now obey what we weren’t obeying before. “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Notice – we do the repenting; He does the cleansing. If you want to house-clean your heart, read through the Torah and see how many issues become clear to you as to His will about many things that may have been fuzzy before. (You might want to pray Psalm 119:18 as you read.)
But it gets better. For those of us who are the Lord’s, we are not only able to read the Scriptures and glean from them but as His sheep, we can hear His voice. (Jn 10:27) We can know what He is saying to us personally. He can bring healing or cleansing to places in our hearts that could not come in any other way or from any other source for only He knows what’s in our deepest inner being.
Most hurts come from someone – ourselves or someone else – acting in a way contrary to God’s Word, consciously or not. Often we are damaged even as children. Teaching our children the value of obeying the written word of God will help them learn to obey the voice of God. It goes without saying that this applies to us grown-ups as well. Hearing His voice is probably my greatest pleasure in life, a source of great joy. Being able to hear His voice can also save us from a lot of trouble in life.
A friend of mine taught her daughter that the reason she had to learn to listen to her mother and obey immediately is that one day the Lord might speak to her and she would need to know that immediate obedience might save her life. One of Sid’s guests shared a story about a young girl who heard the voice of the Lord tell her to quickly move away from where she was. As she had been taught to recognize when God speaks to her and to obey, she quickly moved away, pulling her friend by the arm with her. Within seconds a car came around the corner and crashed into the spot where they had just been standing.
Some people think that hearing God’s voice means only for “religious” things, for high and lofty spiritual issues, and they miss hearing Him in the ordinary. You’ve heard it said, God is in the details. I want to add, God is in the ordinary details of life. He created the ordinary in our lives. He knows what we’re dealing with. He is the only one who can really help us and therefore He has created us to be entirely dependent upon Him, for He has promised to be with us in times of need or in times of rest. It’s in that dependency and confidence in His care that we can cast our cares upon Him, knowing He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). Prayer is a gift that enables us to do just that. We can pray our hearts out, for ourselves or for others, and then leave the burden with Him whose shoulders are able to bear the weight; ours aren’t really.
There is no greater way to be available for the Holy Spirit to do a work in our hearts and lives than when we worship. I recently heard a pastor put it this way: He has told us He loves us: “For God so loved (us) that He gave (us) His only begotten Son.” (John 3:16 – my paraphrase). When we worship, we are saying “I love you too, Lord.” God responds to us when we respond to Him. When our hearts are open to Him, the Spirit of God works in us. As we rely on Him we are conformed to the image of Yeshua who repeatedly said how reliant He was upon His Father.
Recently someone quoted to me what they expected was in the Bible: “God helps those who help themselves.” Actually that’s a quote from Benjamin Franklin who is reported to have had 30 illegitimate children. It appears he “helped himself,” and lived rather independent of God’s word.
At one time in my walk with the Lord I was sitting under some rather works-oriented teaching which put an emphasis on my “getting it right” and making sure my life was lined up with the Word. While I am wholly in agreement with that, the total responsibility, as far as I could tell, was entirely mine to make my life acceptable to God. I had to “help myself” to do better. No matter how hard I tried, I continually failed to meet the mark. Each sermon brought up something I needed to repent of but next week it was something else. I lived in the constant stress of introspection that had me continually aware that I was displeasing to God. The subtle message was that until I “got it right,” whatever that meant, God wasn’t pleased with me. In essence it left me with no place to go. How could I go to God until and unless I got myself to a place of acceptability to Him? This misrepresentation of the Lord and His ways with His people brought me great anxiety as all I wanted to do was please the Lord. The leaders of this congregation wanted to do right themselves, mind you. They were not evil or intentionally misrepresenting the Lord. They were misinformed themselves.
In time the Lord took me out of that congregation and put me in one in which grace was a major emphasis of the sermons, which I desperately needed in order to bring balance into my life. I began to understand that a heart that desires to do God’s will is pleasing to God even if we don’t “get it right.” I also began to realize that there is no way I can ultimately “help myself.” I began to hear God’s voice again now that I knew He wasn’t angry with me or disappointed in me. As I prayed in faith now, my heart was changed, like my grandchildren’s hearts.
A study I did in the Word made it clear that those who are most blessed are those who are most dependent upon and trusting in the Lord. Independence put us out there on our own. We can see Israeli’s plight when they acted independently. That’s not where I want to be – ever. That I desperately need the Spirit of God every day is a blessing and not a failure. This kind of dependence upon the Lord brings His favor into our lives. If we do it, there’s no glory for Him. If He does it, He gets the glory.
Several years after I left that congregation I was invited to a birthday party which some who were still in that congregation attended. In a somewhat candid conversation one sweet woman of whom I had been quite fond made the statement, “I keep telling the Lord I’m sorry I can’t get it right. I keep having to come to Him to help me. I just can’t do it by myself.” My heart went out to her as she was still laboring under the error of self-determination and self-sanctification that she’d been taught. That kind of effort can never accomplish its task and leaves us exhausted and confused as to why all our effort isn’t getting us free. The only conclusion then tends to be that there is something seriously wrong with us so we try harder to “help ourselves.”
At the One New Man conference held in August 2007, there was a theme that came across through two of the speakers in particular. Both speakers have very different personae but the message was the same: “Cease striving and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10a). It’s a religious spirit, that is to say a demon that drives us, and causes us to strive, trying to get us to work to be acceptable and to “qualify” as spiritual enough for God to use us – or even like us. Usually its man’s idea of what’s acceptable, not God’s. Man sets up qualifications for acceptability, but Jesus has already qualified us! We’re qualified in Him. God’s way is for us to trust Him. The fear of man will cause us to be anxious and keep us from growing up in the Lord, but God says, “Be anxious for nothing, but by prayer and supplication (asking), with thanksgiving (because you believe He heard you and will answer), let your requests be known to God.” (Phil. 4:6 – my paraphrase)
Man looks on the outward but God looks upon the heart. (Heb. 4:12) No sense trying to look good on the outside. It is in our hearts that the Lord knows us and makes us like Himself, little by little, from glory to glory. As we respond to the Lord and His Word, our hearts are made one with His heart, by His great grace. There’s no peace like the peaceful fruit of (His) righteousness! (Heb. 12:11) Perhaps you’d like to pray with me.
Lord, you know what’s in my heart. You know I want to be pleasing to you. Purify my motives. Cause me to be like Yeshua, fully dependent upon You. Change my heart to love You more and to love what and whom You love, Lord. Anoint me to glean revelation from your Word. Enable me to have keener ears to hear Your Voice. I thank you even now for the grace to obey immediately. Lord, I rest in You. I thank you for changing my heart as only You can. I pray for your highest will to be done in my life and I trust you to work it all out for Your glory, In Yeshua’s Name. Amen.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.