I Can't Hear You When I'm Talking

My son is by no means immune to logic…at least no more than the next two-and-a-half-year-old. If he can stop squirming long enough to listen, he’s often able to comprehend the whys and why-nots of a given situation. “No, Finn, I don’t want you to poke the dog in the eye. Yes, I know you think it’s funny, but would you want her to poke you in the eye? No? Then you probably shouldn’t do it.”

He gets it. But again, the key is getting him to sit still long enough to listen to logic. If he can’t or won’t listen, things go downhill fast.

Lately, his greatest joy has been kicking around a soccer ball in the front yard. He runs after it, squealing and giggling. He lines it up just right. He announces, “I kick it.” And then he proceeds to do just that. Then the running and squealing and giggling begin again.

Just the other day I asked him if he wanted to go out front and kick the soccer ball. Before I had even finished asking the question he was at the front door, twisting the doorknob with both little hands, saying, “Go kick. Go kick!” But before we could go outside I needed him to put on his shoes. Logical, right? Well, this is one of those examples where logic fails because he’s just not hearing it. The conversation went something like this:

Finn: Go kick! Me: Yup, we’re going to go play with the ball, but first I need you to get your shoes and… Finn: Go kick! Me: I know, and we will, but… Finn: (with concern) Kick? Me: Mm-hmm, but… Finn: (growing desperate) Please? Me: Yeah, buddy, we will but your shoes… Finn: (the tears are filling his eyes) Please go play? Me: Yeah, just put on…

And then it’s over. He’s beside himself. It’s not really a tantrum. He’s not demanding his way. But suddenly he believes that what he’s been promised will not happen, that the thing he’s pleading for is going ignored. It’s absolute, crushing, and pitiful disappointment.

The logic was sound. The answer was there. He just couldn’t listen.

But this “not listening thing” is not just the territory of two-year olds. We do the same thing, and often we do it with God. There have been many times when I have made my questions known to God, when I have pleaded, when I have demanded justice, or answers, or clarity. And then I have just kept on pleading and demanding and the like. I haven’t stopped to take a breath, much less listen.  Then I conclude that God doesn’t have an answer for me or that he hasn’t been listening when, really, I’m the one who hasn’t been listening.

Habakkuk shows us another way. He does his fair share of questioning and pleading and demanding justice, but then he stops and he listens. He asks his questions, and then he waits; he waits intently and with purpose.

I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint. Habakkuk 2:1

You get this image of Habakkuk standing on the highest point of the city walls, face to the wind, squinting against the sun, eyes scanning the horizon, awaiting a messenger who might come at any moment. He is quiet, but he is expectant and searching. And he gets his answer. And while it may not be the answer he was hoping for, he has had a conversation with God. He has heard the logic of heaven above.