The importance of listening to God

The humorous story is told of a hardened sceptic who one day decided to go and see the famous preacher George Whitefield. Whitefield was popular for his sermons and outreach work, and the sceptic was curious to see what this man looked like after hearing that the preacher was conducting an open air meeting nearby.

When the man arrived at the field, Whitefield was already  surrounded by hundreds of people so the only way to see him was to climb a nearby tree. The man climbed up, nestled in a branch and then put his fingers in his ears. He was determined to see the impassioned Whitefield but didn't want to be influenced by his preaching. The man watched for a while when suddenly an insect landed on his face. Precisely at the moment that he removed his hands from his ears to flick the insect away, the preacher shouted out to the crowd those famous words from Matthew Ch 11; "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." Impressed by this coincidence the sceptic decided to listen to what he was saying.

Whitefield went on to speak of the wilful refusal of many to hear God's voice and pleaded with the crowd to search their conscience. The whole event profoundly impressed the sceptic to such a degree that he decided to explore spiritual matters with an open mind. After much soul searching and a great deal of investigation he finally embraced the Christian faith and became a devout Christian. He often wondered however, what would have happened if that fly hadn't landed on his nose!

Today, many people are similar to this man, in that they simply do not want to hear what God is saying to them or indeed hear what He is saying to the entire world. Oh they may not put their fingers in their ears, but they will use other methods of distraction to drown out His voice which are just as effective. Perhaps it will be a busy lifestyle with no time to stop and listen, or perhaps it will be too great an interest in some particular hobby or to too much devotion to business advancement. No matter what method of distraction is used the result is the same; God is speaking, but they aren't listening.

In reality, God has a personal message for every individual, but how many stop to listen? The message that God is trying to deliver to us is for our benefit and welfare, and so to ignore this message is akin to "biting the hand that feeds us."

If people listened to what God is saying to them, they would be amazed at the way He guides, prepares and sustains. One famous instance comes from the Times Square Church in New York. Over the years since 9/11 there has been much discussion amongst the American Security Agencies regarding "who knew what and when". Investigations reveal that this church had been waiting for the disaster and was actually ready and prepared to establish relief tents at "ground zero" to comfort survivors and rescue workers.

The pastor of the church David Wilkerson explained the reason for their readiness. He revealed that 6 weeks before the terrorist attack he and every member of his pastoral team were struck by a deep conviction that a tragedy was shortly to occur and that God wanted them to prepare for it. As a result of this conviction they cancelled all major church events in the weeks prior to 9/11 and replaced them with 4 prayer meetings per week. At these meetings the specific aim of their prayer was to plead that the effects of the coming disaster would be lessened from what might otherwise have been the case.

These individuals were listening and God was speaking. God wanted to prepare and forearm them. His message was for people's benefit not their harm. But just suppose they had made themselves "too busy" to listen? Suppose they had thought in their hearts "I don't want to hear what God is saying"?

When God speaks its always for our benefit, welfare and guidance so as to keep us away from evil, spare us from Judgement or protect us from trouble. It is sheer madness not to listen. Deep in your spirit are you listening to the personal message God has for you? Be sure that God has something to say which is for you benefit and blessing. Refusal to listen is like saying to God "I don't want Your blessing and help" and where is the sense in that?