We all fail to hear things said to us or even explained to us at times. We can be distracted, or disinterested, or maybe we think we don’t need to know or already know what is being said. For various reasons we miss many signals that come to us.
I once created a special program for young children in a problem class. The first and repeated lesson was the need to ‘Pay Attention’. I symbolised that idea with images of animals looking straight at the photographer. My rule was that the children had to look directly at the person who needed their attention, such as their teacher. We practiced turning our heads to look directly at the one we were supposed to pay attention to.
It was fun and the children quickly improved their behaviour and study performance.
Many times at school a teacher will call for attention but some students will want to do finishing touches on whatever they are working on. Or when the children look to the teacher they are distracted by something else that comes into sight, which diverts them from focus on what is being said.
Parents know all about this with raising children. But most supervisors or event organisers find it frustrating that people come and ask for information that has already been explained.
When King Solomon wrote the Book of Proverbs he clearly addressed his son, instructing him to ‘pay attention’.
“My son, pay attention to my words; turn your ear to my sayings.” Proverbs 4:20
It’s almost humorous that in the very next chapter Solomon repeated himself.
“My son, pay attention to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding” Proverbs 5:1
A joke goes that a wife said to her husband, “The reason women talk more than men is that men don’t listen.” The husband looked up from his newspaper and asked, “What did you say?”
Whatever complications we create by not listening to teachers, parents or family members, imagine the problems we can go through because we don’t listen to God. If it is easy for us to not be truly listening attentively, then surely we do it as much with God as with others.
God instructed His people to pay attention to an angel God sent to travel with them.
“I am sending an angel before you to protect you and bring you to the place I prepared. Pay attention to him and listen to his voice; do not defy him, for he will not forgive rebellion, since My Name is in him. But if you listen carefully to his voice and do everything I say, I will be enemy to your enemies and foe to your foes.” Exodus 23:20-22
We are instructed to pay attention to all that comes from God.
“Listen and give heed. Do not be arrogant, for the LORD has spoken.” Jeremiah 13:15
God instructs us to hear the things Jesus taught.
“A bright cloud overshadowed them: and a voice spoke out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” Matthew 17:5
If you ignore a warning sign and get hurt, whose fault is that? You can’t blame others when you failed to pay attention to the signs. If you are instructed how to use equipment properly and don’t listen, then damage it, whose fault is that? You can’t blame others when you failed to listen carefully.
If God sends you repeated warnings or promptings and you keep ignoring them, you can’t blame God for the troubles you get into.
People have told me they can look back and see how God tried to get through to them but they were too distracted by their issues, career, ambitions and so on. Many people with a health issue realise they ignored warning signs.
Failure in marriage, business, relationships, investments and so on often come after people were given plenty of warning of the problems.
As a Christian you have ears to hear from God and through God’s Word. But if you train yourself not to listen, you will lose your sensitivity to God and His Truth. It’s like a parent who learns to turn off to the unwanted complaints of a child.
On the flip-side, you can retrain your ears to be attentive to things you’ve learned to ignore. God’s voice is one of those things you really must keep tuned to. God might speak to you through promptings, conviction, the Bible or sermons. God has spoken at times through dreams and visions and through wise counsellors.
All that is wasted if you aren’t listening. We are to be like a dedicated servant ever watchful to our Lord, to instantly respond to what He wants, even before He asks.
“As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes are on the Lord our God until He shows us mercy.” Psalm 123:2
I urge you, for Christ’s sake and for your own best good, stop ignoring God’s voice speaking into your life. Pay Attention to God and His Word and the truth God sends to you each day. Learn to be an obedient and careful listener to all the things God has for you, because you have committed to Pay Attention.