listen

I have been meaning to blog more on faith and science, but I have been stuck on other tasks first.  In the meantime I heard about this illustration that seemed perfect for Our Daily Journey.  I have embedded links to the video and the Washington Post article in case any of you may want to use it in a sermon sometime (which is where I first heard it!).

read > John 1:1-18

He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him (v. 10).

One of the world’s finest violinists performed Bach and Schubert in a Washington, D.C. subway, and over a thousand commuters hurried right on by.  Some wore ear buds or chatted loudly into their cell phones while others were rushing too fast to pause for Joshua Bell’s unexpected treat.  Many people did stop for lottery tickets, but even as they waited in line no one turned around to enjoy the violinist who three days before had sold out an auditorium of $100 seats.

        We also can be so immersed in the banal flurry of life that we fail to hear the music of God.  “The heavens proclaim the glory of God,” wrote David.  “The skies display his craftsmanship.  Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known” (Psalm 19:1-2).  Every sunrise, cloud, and flower is a revelation from God.  Do you hear it?

        Psalm 104 recounts the many ways God sustains our lives.  Your job, church, and faithful friend are God’s grace notes to you.  Can you hear them?

        Most important, John declares that Jesus is God’s light to the world but “the world didn’t recognize him.”  It’s easy to doubt your beliefs when you’re surrounded by people who don’t see in Jesus what you hear.  But what if you’re the normal one?  

        Only seven people stopped to listen during the 43 minutes that Joshua Bell performed.  One of them was John Picarello, who parked himself by a shoeshine stand and looked around, bewildered, at the other commuters scurrying past.  When interviewed later he said that “other people just were not getting it.  It just wasn’t registering.  That was baffling to me.” 

        Few people notice that their lives pulsate with the love of God.  Put breaks in your day—come to a full stop—so you do.

5 Comments

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  1. Mike,

    Excellent reminders here! It is so true that in all of our technological flurry and hurry we are prone to miss the simple but elegant reality of God’s grace in our lives.

    I am no Ludite seeing as how I have worked every day for the last 35 years with state of the art technology but I am more convinced every day that our technology is one of the key things that is killing our ability to hear and see God in everything. Personal enslavement to that which is optional is one way I have put it. Think of it, how many times are you in conversation with someone and they blow you off to check their phone for a text or vioce message? If people were totally honest, how many would admit checking or even sending messages during a worship service?

    Very often we are all together too enslaved to convenience and tittalating distractions to see God in the details. If salvation were not first and last a work of God nobody would look up to see Him.

    “Lord give me eyes to see and ears to hear. Along with this Lord give me the sense to understand that You are more worthy than all other persuits combined.”

    Larry

  2. Mike,

    I don’t like the sentence in the fourth paragragh, “…you’re surrounded by people who don’t see in Jesus what you hear.” Of course they don’t see what I hear. Also, the last sentence of the devotional is rather clumsy. The phrase “so you do” is just hanging there. Other than those two minor things, great devotional.

    Larry, I’m loving your phrase, “personal enslavement to that which is optional.”

  3. Thanks, Jonathan. The clumsiness of “see” and “hear” comes from trying to use John 1, and John says that Jesus is the “light” of the world, which is something we see. I thought about changing that to Jesus is God’s “song” to the world, but then I would not be faithful to John. Also, playing off “seeing” and “hearing” picks up on Luther’s theology of the cross, that we must use the Word of God that we hear to interpret what we see. So don’t worry about not seeing it, the gospel is meant first to be heard anyway. I’d better stop before I begin to sound defensive!🙂 Thanks for your always stimulating tips–and thank you Larry as well.

    I’m reading Calvin for class tomorrow, and already in 1541 he was lamenting that people aren’t wise enough to invest their energies in what really matters but fritter their time with frivolities. The Internet would have made him scream! I can’t see him on Twitter (aren’t twitters meant to be heard anyway?)

  4. So would Calvin consider reading and commenting on this blog a frivolity? But considering that Calvin worked himself into an early grave, maybe we need to make time for some frivolities as well as taking the time to appreciate God’s revelation that pulsates all around us.

    And Mike, why don’t you get an assistant to help with all your busy-ness? You must know someone who is sycophantic enough to do your grunt work.

  5. A few thoughts:

    1) I couldn’t agree more with the overall point of the post. Far too often we rush on by, unaware of the wondrous works that the God of the universe is doing right in front of us. It would serve us well to take more time to pause in silence and reflect on who God is and what he is doing.

    2) Had Bell instead played some cheesy, kitschy, far more familiar tune, I bet he would have had more people stop. That fact reminds me of the famous quote from C.S. Lewis in the Weight of Glory: “Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

    3) My favorite part of this whole exercise was the fact that when I clicked on the link to the YouTube clip, a Dos Equis commercial was the first thing to pop up!

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