Friday, 11 March 2016

Leaning Into Lent: Day 27—Turning It Up

Jesus, God the Father said, is “my Son, my Chosen One, listen to him” (Lk 9.35 ESV). Lenten disciplines are excellent spiritual ear incliners for listening to Jesus.

The night before last I went with my son and some friends to an Ian Fletcher Thornley concert in Calgary. I mentioned it in my earlier Leaning Into Lent: Day 19—Blown Wide Open post. He is a brilliant guitarist and composer. The trouble was, for my old ears anyway, the band’s wall of sound was too much. Even with ear plugs (not hi-tech ones, granted), it was so loud it caused my ears to “break up” like an overloaded speaker. I couldn’t discern individual instruments properly or hear the lyrics. It was muddy and overwhelming.

I was fascinated to hear that it was loud but not too loud for my younger companions. They thought it was a good mix. So the problem was obviously mine—the product of the too loud a volume portion of my mis-spent youth. It was hard listening so I wanted to lean away. Sigh.

Holy Lent listening to God can be hard, too. Up to now in my far from consistent or faithful life of listening to the Lord, I’ve never been blasted like I was at Thornley’s concert the other night or like Isaiah was when the foundations of the thresholds shook and house was filled with smoke (Isa 6.4—that must have been quite a concert). I’ve never needed spiritual ear-plugs. I’ve had the opposite problem. I need things louder. I need the Lord’s sound man to turn it up and do a clean mix for me to hear anything at all and even then, most often God’s word comes to me in something like Elijah’s mere whis of a whisper on Mount Horeb (1 Kings 19.12 ESV).

The thing is, if God did decide to let loose with the lights and smoke and all, it would be much, much bigger than any concert and would, no doubt, blow my ears out and me away. In his mercy, God’s audio comes divinely attenuated in a mysterious and minimalist mix which is exactly tuned for my old ears. My job is to lean close and keep listening, whether I think I hear anything or not. God, the Father, said so.