This fall, my Bible study is doing Priscilla Shirer’s “Discerning the Voice of God.” It seems to me that, after the basic question of Does God exist, the most pressing question we ask is If God exists, does he speak to us?
Once I believe that (and I do), it seems the next big question is why can’t I hear Him? The Shirer study is all about cleaning the wax out of our spiritual ears, and reconnecting with that gracious voice that called us out of our spiritual tomb into salvation. Personally, I can be so consumed by other input—entertainment, sports, talk radio, my own stories—that my ears dull to the voice of the Holy Spirit.
Considering my own aural insensitivity got me thinking about Tasha. My ears are exquisitely fine-tuned to her every move. A rustle from the kitchen means she’s getting into the trash. A scraping noise from the pantry means she’s nosing open her bag of dog food. A click of her claws against the door indicates she wants to go out or come in.
When she was younger and more active, I was very attuned to the sound of her movement in the woods. When we first got her, she would run wide, wide circles (maybe 300 yards in diameter or more) in the brush at top speed. Depending on whether the brush was whispering, rustling, or crashing, I knew if she was near or far. The jingle of her dog-tags told me she was back on the path, and whether she was racing ahead or had turned to come back.
Marj’s dog Maddie has her own set set of sounds. When first let off her leash, she runs like thunder. As we near the water, we’ll hear a whomp, followed by a splash and know Maddie has taken the plunge. When she swims with a stick (okay, it's usually more like a small log) in her mouth, she grunts and sputters because she’s so excited. She’ll jump up on the big rock, drop the stick and shake the water in a tht-tht-tht of pure joy.
As a fishing dog, Tasha paddles smoothly, snout pointed daintily down so she can stare into the water. The silky silence of her movement is as beautiful as a rousing hallelujah. When she’s passed on, this is what I’ll remember of her, I think.
Now that Tasha’s hearing is almost gone, it’s a chore to get her attention in the woods. I have to shout with just the right pitch to my voice. She’ll finally hear me but not with enough clarity to know where I am. When I see her looking around, I jump up and down and wave my arms so she can find me.
It embarrasses me to think of that God might need to wave divine arms and shout, “Here, girl! I’m here. No, not there. Over here! Come on, right here!” I need to be as sensitive to the Spirit’s leading as I am to the jingle of Tasha’s tags.
I don’t want to have to be put on a leash.