When I was younger I was a great listener.
For all of my teenaged faults (and there were many!) I knew how to seek the voice of God. This wasn’t in an “open the Bible and point to a verse and do what it says” sort of way. More like “God is peeking out at me from unexpected places”. I found encouragement and consolation in the world that I was just discovering, and so much was so new to me that everything was so exciting. The world was charged with the grandeur of God.
And so I listened. I went to college and found that there were things I was passionate about and I was pretty good at them. That was enough of a sign from God for me to ignore the people who asked “Music and theology? What are you going to do with that?” When I came home from the mail room one afternoon, dejected to have been rejected as a Fulbright scholar, and saw a flyer on my door recruiting full time volunteer teachers in an urban school, I knew that was God too, calling me to a future beyond my wildest imaginings.
Life was a lapping ocean and I was lying on my back, rolling with the tide. For all the craziness of my life at the time, I was still able to relax into grace and providence. I was young. The signs were obvious and the stakes were low. I listened and obeyed.
So, for a decade, nearly everything I did from when I got up in the morning to when I went to sleep at night was based on those first few inspired decisions. I did good work and I worked hard. The current I had chosen to ride was a laborious one, but I was confident that it was right. And I was comfortable.
“If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts”. In my defense, I really thought that i was still listening. But truthfully my heart became hard. I thought that since it was listening that led me to this life, that I could be done with it. I could cling now to the certainty and stability that have always been my biggest temptations.
I have always just wanted things to stay as they are. Recently, when God tried to tell me things I hardened my heart and try to tune it out. I was doing the things that were right ten years ago, so they must still be right. Maybe they are still right, but I won’t know until my heart softens.
It is hard because I am scared. I know that when I ask God for the truth it may not be what I want to hear. God’s voice can turn my world on its head. I know that it is for the best. I know that I can trust. I believe that I won’t be asked to deny the people and values that really matter to me. But all of the rest of it? The comfort of knowing? Of control? I might be asked to sacrifice that.
Once upon a time I was brave or foolish enough to listen. If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your heart.