October 12, 2007
“Trisha! Let me in!” My scream was accompanied by a rather intense knocking on the door. Alright, I admit it. It was a stupid thing to do. Yet, regrettably, it wasn’t the first time it had happened and likely wouldn’t be the last.
I was standing outside the front door to our home, a locked front door that is. Where were my keys? No, I had not lost them. I knew exactly where they were. They were resting comfortably in the ignition of my car, the doors of which also happened to be locked. And yes, the motor was running. Locking my keys in my car was an all-too-frequent occurrence with me at the time. But in defense of my intelligence I will submit in evidence the fact that my ancient mini-van’s warning device for such predicaments had not functioned properly for years. When the fog of forgetfulness separated me from my keys I usually called the AAA and within an hour would be happily reunited with my brass trinkets.
Unlike previous occasions, this particularly day my absent mindedness had fortunately happened in front of my own house. I was standing a few feet away from all the comforts and conveniences of home, including a spare set of car keys. The good news: My daughter, who was still living at home at the time, had not yet left for work. The bad news: She was not responding to the doorbell. At 8:30 in the morning she was obviously still asleep in her upstairs bedroom.
I remember thinking optimistically that if I knocked loudly enough on the door she could be awakened. For several minutes I alternated between ringing the doorbell and knocking. At first I was having a good time blending chimes and percussion in a symphony of rhythmic bliss. It didn’t take long, however, for growing frustration to trigger an adrenalin-induced pounding that shook the entire house and threatened to awaken the dead. Dogs began to bark, neighbors peered cautiously through their curtains, mothers grabbed their children and dove for cover, but no one came to the door. Amazingly, Trisha still was not responding. I guessed she had fallen to sleep with the earplugs from her “ipod” still firmly affixed to both ears.
Growing more desperate by the minute I walked around to the rear of our house hoping for some inspiration on how to rouse my daughter. I thought about throwing rocks at her bedroom window but was afraid of breaking the glass. Then I spotted the perfect missile, a rotting lemon which had fallen from our lemon tree weeks earlier. With careful aim I let fly a perfect strike. SPLAT! For a few seconds the spoiled fruit stuck to the window then slowly slid down the glass and fell upon the kitchen bay window below. I had succeeded in making a delightfully disturbing noise as well as an impressive, sticky, smelly mess on two windows. But I still had not managed to elicit any visible response from Trisha.
Once again I returned to banging on the front door, this time even more wildly than before, accompanying the pounding by shouting Trisha’s name at the top of my lungs. Eventually, the door opened to reveal an extremely upset, bitterly complaining daughter clad only in a towel and dripping water all over the entryway. Trisha had not been in her bedroom asleep as I had suspected but was in her bathroom taking a shower peacefully oblivious to all the commotion. When she finally heard the raucous pounding on the door followed shortly by the thud on her bedroom window, she became convinced she was about to be attacked by some crazed killer. After all, in most horror movies doesn’t the beautiful female victim fall prey to the insidious, evil villain while taking a shower?
Turning off the water and reaching for her phone she decided to call 911 hoping the police would arrive in time to save her life. Only after she heard me call her name and knew it was her dad, and only after her fear of my reprisal overcame her anger at having her shower interrupted in such a frightening way, would she open the front door and let me in.
Once I apologized to Trisha, hosed the rotten lemon juice off the windows, and began to get over my embarrassment at making a fool of myself in front of my neighbors, I began to wonder if our heavenly Father ever gets this frustrated trying to get His children’s attention. Everyday He attempts to communicate with us in many different ways, yet all too often His cries for dialogue go unanswered. He calls to us in brilliant sunshine and driving rain, in mountain grandeurs and canyon majesties, in desert solitude and ocean vastness, in towering redwoods and dainty daffodils. He speaks of His creative genius and awesome power, and He assures us He has the ability to handle any of life’s problems no matter how difficult they may seem from our human perspective. But do we respond in admiration, worship and praise?
Through His written word He encourages us, instructs us, corrects us and tells us of His love. But how often do we avail ourselves of the Almighty’s voice by reading and studying and listening to what He has to say? Through His “still small voice” God whispers love and counsel to our spirits, but are we ever quiet and alert enough to hear Him? With caring voices from people in His Church our Father guides us through the challenges of our daily walk. But, like Trisha, are we often someplace else out of reach, out of touch, out of earshot, distracted by the daily deluge of worldly sounds, afraid of hearing what the Lord may want to say? Perhaps, desperate to awaken us to His cries, our Father will occasionally lob a rotten lemon in our direction, a sticky, foul-smelling circumstance that leaves our life in a mess. “Can you hear me now?” But rather than listen to His pleading do we just get upset and complain bitterly to God?
What if our Lord is also desperately trying to communicate with His Church yet we, like Trisha, are too engrossed in other pursuits (like doing church) to hear? He may have a special word of encouragement He wants us to deliver to a sister suffering in an abusive relationship, but His voice is muffled by the sounds of arguing coming from the finance committee over how to pay for the new building expansion. He may have given a new song of praise to a gifted individual yet the glorious music remains silenced by a lack of opportunity in the midst of a well-rehearsed, pre-programmed, highly controlled song service. He may be screaming to us that a certain ailing brother needs us to lay our hands on him and pray for healing. Instead we use our hands to cover our ears convincing ourselves that such ministry is best done by the professional clergy. He may be pounding on the door of our heart urging us to go and visit a neighbor who is contemplating suicide, yet we are too busy to answer since we are on our way to church and don’t want to be late.
What excuses will we make for being so dull of hearing? “I’m sorry Lord, but everyone else seems to be talking and your voice is so quiet I’m afraid I couldn’t hear you.” “I’m sorry Lord, but I was so exhausted after last night’s committee meeting I guess I just fell asleep.” “I’m sorry Lord, but I wasn’t sure who was knocking. You know you can’t be too careful these days.” On average about one million people are leaving the evangelical church in this country every year. Do you suppose God is trying to tell us something? “Can you hear me now?”
In Scripture Jesus often tells His audience, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” – Matthew 11:15. The implication is that many of us don’t have ears to hear. But those who do will never lack for divine fellowship or direction in life, and their ministries will seldom fail to bear fruit. “…the sheep listen to his voice. He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out…He goes on ahead of them, and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice.” – John 10:3-4. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” – John 10:27.
In case you hadn’t noticed, someone is knocking on your front door, and no, it isn’t a crazed killer. In a verse of Scripture usually quoted for the benefit of unbelievers, Jesus is actually speaking to the Church. “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in…” – Revelation 3:20. He seems to be rather persistent. I advise we answer before He starts to throw things.
Bill, a child of God, ears open