Unable unless enabled

Ever tried, repeatedly, to convey something to someone, but fail to get through to them? To communicate a truth, at least as far as we’re concerned, that doesn’t seem to be heard or understood by those listening? Perhaps intentionally searching for different angles of approach, in desperate hope that eventually what is being said, will finally reach its destination and a common understanding will be had? Communication may be key, but many times our words will fall on deaf ears and we shouldn’t expect that all who hear will understand any more than those who heard the audible words of Jesus failed to comprehend.

Many words Jesus spoke were heard, understood, and received by those who were given ears to hear His message; however, He spoke copious amounts of words to those who’d question, accuse, and refuse Him, regardless of how many attempts to explain the truths that could save them. Any one of us would lose heart and be endlessly frustrated at whatever message we’re trying to get across, but Christ, in His divinity, had (and has) a foreknowledge that begets peace during these exchanges. “For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him'” (John 6:64-65). Yes, these words are addressing the all important topic of election, but within the context of the chapters of John we can see that Christ had employed many methods of relaying truth to those He spoke to. Some would accept, some would deny. Some could hear, some could not. He already knew who’d receive and believe His teaching, as did He know those who’d be deaf to it.

Two chapters later, Jesus is speaking to “children of the devil,” accusing them of not hearing Him because their father is the devil (John 8:44). Understandably, and with such beloved directness, He says, “Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say” (John 8:43). Time and time again, He would convey His message, respond to questioning, openly accept any critical challengers with replies to their hard hearted doubts, and those who would repeatedly refuse it, He claims, are doing so because they aren’t able to hear. This is profound not only when thinking of our attempts to fulfill the Great Commission, but also when dealing with the seemingly trivial instances where our communication is somewhat disabled.

We can drum up all sorts of avenues in attempting to have our hearers comprehend where we’re coming from, but even when we’re given biblical insight that our point trying to be made is sound and true according to His Word, our words may continue to go unheard. What, then, are we to do when faced with an unhearing heart? First, and foremost, seek guidance from the Spirit through Scripture that our message is God honoring and glorifying. In the case of evangelism, that is simple and wholly in line with Scripture; but what about those daily battles that require successful communication to maintain God given relationships? With our children, our spouses, our friends and family? How many proposals can we make to amend a broken line of communication before we come to realize that it is not our methods, or angles of execution, that’ll ultimately reach our hearers?

There is only a second step to this formula, following the first to search out the integrity of our message: wait on God to enable those who’ve been unable to hear. This, Jesus already knew. And this, He already shared with us in John’s gospel. Now, we wait. Perhaps instead of praying for another mode of communication to reach the ears of the unhearing, we can simply pray that God will enable them to hear. This isn’t to say that we give up trying to reach out, but it is to say that when our own ears are enabled to hear that it is not our words of explanation that will eventually unveil the truth to others, we can rest knowing that God will reach who He wants, when He wants, and simultaneously accomplish His purposes throughout it all.

As we persevere in our communication goals, holding out hope that our message will be heard, knowing that God will open ears at His will, we cannot be closed off enough ourselves by believing we have nothing to hear. There will be messages that others are trying to relay to us, but our understanding is deafened. There will always be lessons to be learned in any case and while our focus can sometimes be fixated on another receiving our message, we must humbly, and consistently, ask God to pry open our ears to the constant flow of messages He is communicating to us. That is the one line of communication that we definitely need to keep clear, irrespective of how many road blocks we encounter in our peer relationships.

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