Do you ever wonder why some things are invisible to us? I can walk down a street and look right through people. Not until they say my name do I actually see them.
Or a child can stand in front of the refrigerator and ask, "Where's the salsa?" And we have to hand it to him—when it was right in front of his nose the whole time.
I also miss hearing things. I tell my husband, "You didn't tell me!"
He replies, "Oh, but I did."
It's an irony, I suppose, but even the sighted and hearing can be blind and deaf.
This irony runs deeply through the pages of Scripture. I recently stumbled on a passage that framed this all too well: "Hear, you deaf; look, you blind, and see! … You have seen many things, but have paid no attention; your ears are open, but you hear nothing" (Isaiah 42:18, 20, italics added).
Awake to God
God puts a premium on the simple disciplines of seeing and hearing. These two qualities—a seeing eye, a hearing ear—represent a heart awake to God.
Moses learned to pay attention and so heard from God. One day while herding sheep in the wilderness of Midian, he noticed a bush. It seemed to be on fire, but it wasn't burning up. The desert is a strange place—the shimmering heat, light, solitude—it can all play tricks on you. Mirages happen. Moses could have thought, Why bother? It's just a trick of the eye. But Moses turned his mind from the sheep and said, "I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up" (Exodus 3:3).
This single act of paying attention to something in nature—a burning bush—changed his life. "When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush" (Exodus 3:4). God wasn't concerned about the fact that the last 40 years of Moses' résumé read like a parking lot attendant. God was looking for someone who was present enough to see and hear. When God called, "Moses. Moses," Moses paid attention and said, "Here I am."
That, "Here I am" landed Moses on holy ground. When we are present even to a burning bush, we might find we've landed on holy ground. The discipline of seeing and hearing isn't some esoteric expertise you learn in graduate school. It isn't a gift doled out only to the beautiful or resolute. It's something available to us all. Seeing and hearing are gifts available for those who are present. "Listen, listen to me and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live" (Isaiah 55:2-3).