Almost 2 years ago God called us to move to a new country to join with 61 Isaiah ministry in sharing the gospel with the Lenca. This meant we had to leave all our old friends and make new friends, leave some comfortable customs and learn some new ones. It meant that we needed to learn a new language so we could communicate the gospel we were called to communicate.
Our whole family began to take Spanish classes. I had known a little Spanish before but just enough to get by with a few basic things. Most of the Spanish I knew was picked up by listening to people and joining in on the conversation. Michelle is doing much better than I am as she listens and practices with her teacher.
One thing that has made it difficult is that we moved here during a pandemic, and everyone is wearing a mask. You can’t see their lips when they speak and their voice is muffled. Well, this made it hard for someone who learns by listening. Now we all had that problem, but I found out I had an even bigger problem.
For a few years, Michelle had joked about me having selective hearing, and then that grew to me just not getting every word that was said in a noisy room. I would begin to hear my family say things like “does the T.V. have to be so loud” or “remember I told you that” then we would be somewhere and I would hear some of the smallest quietest sounds and they would come to the conclusion that I had selective hearing.
Well in learning a new language, we began to find out that even though I was repeating what I heard I was not pronouncing the words correctly. We realized something was wrong with my hearing. I just didn’t hear the same things other people did. We decided to get my hearing tested.
We took a 5-hour drive to Tegucigalpa for an appointment with an audiologist. After about an hour of testing, he brought me into his office, and he said he had some bad news and some good news. He asked me if I had ear infections as a child – I did. He asked me if I was in a place regularly that caused me to be around loud music. I said I was a youth Pastor and went to many concerts and also helped backstage during concerts.
He knew my hearing history from these tests. He said the bad news was that I have a diagnosis of hearing loss for the hearing. This has three very noticeable symptoms. 1. When you are in a room where many people are talking you can’t hear clearly, everything just mushes together. 2. When you’re talking with people you need to look at them and see their lips. 3. When learning a new language, you can’t pick up all the words correctly and hear different things that other people hear.
The latter symptom is the one we need to deal with the most. It seems that I can’t hear certain sounds of letters. I can’t hear B, P, T, V, S, and a few more. It was fine when I was only around English words. When people would speak English to me, and my ears didn’t hear those sounds my brain would fill in the blanks with the right sounds, so I thought I was hearing those sounds. It was what I was used to and expected. I didn’t think I was missing anything I believed and knew I was hearing those sounds. Now when I began learning a new language there would be blanks and my brain would try to fill in the blanks with the English sounds. Now when the word was close to an English word, I did fine but when the words were not I struggled. Michelle and others would repeat the words and I would say what I just knew was being said and I was wrong.
Well, when the audiologist put in a demo set of hearing aids adjusted for this, things did not sound louder, but they sounded clearer. Then he began to speak to me in Spanish and say a few words that included those letters. I was wowed. I had to ask him if these words really sounded that way and on one word, I argued with him but when Michelle walked in and said the word it sounded just like him and I was hearing the wrong thing the whole time.
Romans 12:2 tells us “Do not be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” We need to be careful not to have hearing loss for the hearing spiritually. This is when we have a tradition or practice that we have done our whole life and even when we read a scripture that says something different, we have already decided and all we hear is what we want to. Or maybe we have an idea or thought that we believe and want to be true that when we hear teaching or see something that isn’t that way we refuse to see or hear the truth.
I have been a Christian for 44 years and for 30 of those years I was positively sure there were only 2 of each animal on Noah’s Ark. Then one day while reading the story to my kids in Genesis 7:2 I read the word seven. What?!!! 7 clean animals of each kind – Wow. You mean all those songs and all those movies, and all those bible stories were not right. Then a few years later I was reading it again for a project and how did I miss that it was 7 pairs of each clean animal – what ?!!! you mean 14 of each clean animal and bird. I had hearing loss for the hearing with Noah’s Ark. How many more things were clear in scripture that I was doing the same thing? How many times had I decided that since someone told me that is the way it is, and they put two or three scriptures together and it sounded so good and it was what I wanted to hear so I believed it to be that way?
I believe that the bible is the Word of God and that all of it is true. The problem is that many people want to give certain scriptures more weight than others. Any time we have a belief or a teaching that requires us to lessen or explain away another scripture, I think we may be experiencing a little hearing loss for the hearing spiritually. We need to be very careful when we decide that we want to hear what we want to hear and make one scripture less than another in importance. I have found throughout the years of studying God’s word I have had hearing loss for the hearing and needed to look at scripture for what it says and not what I want it to say. It is amazing what happens when we simply let God’s word be our hearing aid and correct us.