How are your ossicles today?! These three tiny bones in your middle ear are known as the malleus, incus, and stapes. More commonly they are referred respectively to as the hammer, anvil, and stirrup. Although these are the smallest bones in your body, each play a vital role in your hearing. 'Shell-like' has been used to mean a person's ear since the late 19th century. Clearly this refers to the ear's shape with its opening and possibly the fact that shells were used as the earliest form of hearing aids! The earliest citation of the phrase ‘shell-like’ is Thomas Hood's romantic poem Bianca's Dream, 1827: ‘This, with more tender logic of the kind, He poured into her small and shell-like ear’. What do you hear in your shell-like? It all rather depends on how close you are to the one speaking and how much noise is going on around you. This applies to the two types of hearing – natural and supernatural.
- ‘You never really learn much from hearing yourself talk’ – George Clooney
- ‘The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said’ – Peter Drucker
- ‘Ears are made not for hearing but for listening. Listening is an active skill, whereas hearing is passive. Listening is something that we have to work at - it's a relationship with sound. And yet, it's a skill that none of us are taught’ – Julian Treasure
- ‘Just as in earthly life lovers long for the moment when they are able to breathe forth their love for each other, to let their souls blend in a soft whisper, so the mystic longs for the moment when in prayer he can, as it were, creep into God’ - Soren Kierkegaard
Who invented listening anyway?! And what is the point of it? Apparently it is the brain that does most of the listening – the ossicles being the receiving instruments that pass the sound on a bit like a dish radio telescope. When there is no noise, you can actually hear a pin drop – it measures 10 decibels (dB) whereas a soft whisper measures 20 dB. To hear such a quiet noise, you have to concentrate and hone in or you will miss it. Do you think you have ever missed the whisper of God? What might be the spiritual equivalent of ossicles?
- Beethoven first noticed difficulties with his hearing when he was 28 and was totally deaf aged 45. He still composed music after this with the climax in his 9th Symphony (the Choral) in 1822, just 5 years before he died aged 56.
- The largest game of Chinese Whispers was in New Zealand in 2017 and involved 1,792 people
- A jet aircraft measuring 130 dB is the loudest sound that we can hear for a short period of time without pain
- Rats, bats and cats are listed in the 10 animals with best hearing and include horses, pigeons with the top being the moth
Why do we often turn a deaf ear to God when he wants to have our attention? Paul tells us that God speaks to us through all we see in creation but if we have ‘spiritual’ ears that are open we will hear through the Bible, Christian friends, music, events, circumstances, sermons and every prompting of the Holy Spirit. The boy Samuel didn’t recognise God’s voice at first and needed Eli to tell him that indeed it was God speaking to him. Jonah put his fingers in his ears and went in the opposite direction until a whale got his attention! Adam hid from God when he was being called but it was Elijah who heard the whisper of God when he was frightened, lonely and hiding in a cave.
- ‘Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave’ – 1 Kings 19:11-13
- ‘Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear’ – Luke 8:8
When was the last time you actively sought the voice of God? Are there any messages in your 'spiritual voicemail box' that you have not yet listened to or responded to? Is God trying to get your attention? If so, take some time out. Reduce the noise in your life. Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace. Lean in and listen to the whisper of God your Father.
TAGS – blindness, deafness, ignoring, following, obedience, heed, attention, attentive