I Can’t Hear for All the Noise
Today’s title is a summary of some overwhelming thoughts that I was recently wrestling with. I couldn’t hear what I needed to hear because of all the other noise that was coming at and overcoming me.
Hearing is essential to all animals and we humans can distinguish 400,000 different sounds. All of these sounds are actually frequencies between 20 and 20,000 Hertz, but we are most sensitive to sounds between 500 & 4,000 Hertz and we are most sensitive to frequencies that are crucial to speech recognition. (So, most of us really do hear what they are saying. Ha ha)
The loudness of these sounds is important too, and is expressed in decibels, dB. Prolonged exposure to louder than 85dB will damage our ear and cause hearing loss. Just for your reference, a gas powered lawn mower loudness is 85-90 dB!
“In 1999, the World Health Organization determined in a 24 hour period, exposure to 70 dB would produce minimal hearing loss in 95% of people.” (1) For clarity, that means that if you were exposed to 70 dB of noise for 24 hours straight, 95% of people would experience minimal hearing loss.
Hang with me here, we’ll tie some things together shortly.
Our very mechanism of hearing is a complicated and marvelous design. Here’s a quick review:
- 2 identical units – right and left ear
- external ear – the pinna, ear canal and eardrum
- middle ear – malleus, hammer, incus, anvil, stapes, stirrup
- inner ear – oval window, cochlea
- auditory nerve
- the brain – not part of the hearing mechanism but the power that turns what we hear into a sound that we recognize and understand
The pinna acts as a funnel, collecting all those sound waves, and sending them along the 2-3 cm ear canal where they will bounce off the ear drum and onto those 3 tiny bones in the middle ear. Those lil’ guys amplify those “good vibrations” and send them on to that snail shaped cochlea that has fluid inside. That fluid stimulates tiny hair cells causing them to move. When they do move, these pore-like channels open up and chemicals rush in creating an electrical signal. The auditory nerve then carries this electrical signal to the brain and voila, our brain decipers what we are hearing.
The fact that we can hear at all is a very complicated process we ought not take it for granted.
But here’s the deal. Because we can hear, we are hearing all sorts of noise, facts, issues, voices, and news. Sometimes, like I experienced last week, there is so much noise, we can’t seem to hear with any clarity what is really important. We have trouble filtering through all the noise. (Is it just me?)
If we continue to expose ourself to loud and frequent noise it should come as no surprise that we would experience hearing loss. We become dull in our hearing first and then our heart even grows dull, heavy burdened. Then, sensitivity is lost, All because of the noise constantly bombarding our ears and taking root in our heart.
From the early first century, we have writings speaking to this very issue.
“Your heart has grown dull of hearing and your ears can barely hear.” Matthew 13:15 ESV
“You have become dull of hearing…” Hebrews 5:11 ESV
“Dull” in the original languages in the Hebrews text means, “sluggish, lazy; stupid, dull & slothful.” “Dull” in the Matthew text means, “heavy, weighty, burdensome, grave. Grievous, heavy.” And it is taken from a word meaning, “going down; a load. Abundance, authority – burdensome, weight.”(3)
The writers here, in the first century are speaking of people’s hearing becoming weighed down, burdensome, and even stupid with an abundance of authority loading on weights. Humph, sounds very familiar…
Here’s a look at how another first century writer describes the things that dull people’s hearing.
In the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”2 Timothy 3:1-5 ESV
No wonder my hearing had become dull. The noise coming at me was alot of this garbage! It was loud. It was constant. It was burdensome, heavy and stupid! It had found it’s way into my hearing mechanism and further complicated my hearing process. (Just what I needed… NOT!)
I did as the audiologists (2) suggest – “If you have normal hearing and want to keep it that way…
- avoid loud & constant noise
- use healthy practices when listening to music
- avoid substances that harm your ears
- don’t let stuff (ear wax) build up
- be aware of infections
- check your heart condition
So I: turned off my 1 hour a day news show, the radio and canceled certain streaming. I choose to listen to only things, videos, and podcasts that would build up my faith. I avoided all things negative or harmful to my hearing and faith. I got rid of stuff building up inside of me, perhaps causing infections by having more serious prayer time. I asked the Lord to heal my heart and remove all hardness and infection.
I realized that my faith, personal convictions and reliance on Christ was dependent on my hearing. “Faith comes from hearing…” Romans 10:17 ESV
I couldn’t hear because of all the noise, so I cut the noise and increased those things that would build my faith. I listened to uplifting, encouraging, and spiritually nutritional things cuz I wanted by faith and reliance on Jesus renewed, and cleaned up.
My hearing has improved but only because I never again want to say or experience, “I can’t hear for all the noise.”
How’s your hearing?
- Centers for Disease Control cdc.gov
- Audiologynow.org – Sandra WIlliams 10.25.22; New Hampshire Hearing Institute, NHHI, nhhearinginstitute.com
- The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, James Strong, LLD. STD.
Are You Picking Up God’s Voice?
Radio waves are those electromagnetic waves that are transmitted by an antenna and received by a receiver, which then converts the signals (EM waves) into audio or visual form for you to see or hear. You’ve used them, you tune your radio to 101.3, and pick up that frequency, that specific signal. In fact, every wireless technology has it’s own little band with which it receives it’s assigned frequencies.
- garage door opener 40 megahertz
- cordless phones 40-50 megahertz
- wildlife tracking devices 215-220 megahertz
- cell phones 824-849 megahertz
- GPS systems 1227-1575 megahertz
Although most raidos are single purpose radios (AM only receives AM signals, FM only receives FM signals, etc.) a scanner receives a wide range of frequencies and can be set to a specific frewuency.
Your brain has similiar capabilities to a radio receiver. Your brain can choose what you hear. For example, if there were many people talking a foreign language at the same time around you, you’ll hear noise. If one person speaks in a familiar language, you’ll be able to hear that one, even if the others are louder, because our brains react differently when we hear understandable language, thus allowing you to hear it clearly. Your brain immediately pays attention to it and turns it into waves.
Our brain never stops hearing. Even when we’re sleeping, the brain is still hearing frequencies and signals. Our ears can distinguish between 100’s of 1000’s of different sounds. No one has an ear or set of ears like yours. Ears are completely individual – like fingerprints. So you have your own little band for hearing that is uniquely yours and singular in purpose. You can scan a wide range of frequencies or tune in on a specific frequency.
In some ways, we could be compared to a car with its antenna raised. Fully functional – it can tune in and out of AM, FM, XM, and car play waves. But with a broken antenna (like my car), signals are limited and static ridden.
We have been manufactured with a built-in spiritual antenna capable of picking up spiritual signals – or God’s voice. We can choose which of the 1000’s of signals we will listen to. We can scan right by God’s voice or we can choose to set our scanner to the frequency of God’s voice. What do we do? Do we tune it out? Is our antenna broken? Do we hear it and respond?
I am encouraged by this insightful verse –
“… long ago God spoke by the prophets, but in these days he has spoken to us by Jesus…”Hebrews 1:1-2 ESV
God not only spoke to men and women long ago, but He is speaking to men and women in these days. That means we need to tune in to His frequency, and be picking up His signal.
“Therefore, we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”Hebrews 2:1 ESV
“Paying careful attention to what we hear”, is not scanning over or past what we hear God’s speaking to us, it is tuning in and locking His channel down. Even making it a pre-set in our spiritual, brainy, receiver.
There are two useful scripture passages to mention here.
1 Samuel 3 tells of a young boy, named Samuel who was sleeping in the Temple. He was under the tutoring of the priest of the day, Eli. Samuel was awakened 3 times by the voice of the Lord talking to Him. Each of these times he had no idea it was God because the days he was living in were dark and desperate, a time when the revelation of God was rare. Samuel didn’t even know God yet.
But that didn’t stop God from speaking to Samuel. Matter of fact, God even spoke to Samuel a 4th time and this time Samuel said, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” And guess what, scripture tells us that God came and stood by him as before and called his name. Then God said, “Listen carefully…” 3:11
Another important scripture along this vein is 1 Kings 19:11-12. Here Elijah, the prohet is listening for the voice of God. He says that God’s voice is NOT in the hurricane, the earthquake, or fire. But God’s voice is like “a gentle & quiet whisper.”
The noise of life drowns out God’s voice. His signal is beaming down upon us for us to pick up on and hear. But are we hearing it, that gentle, quiet whisper? Is His voice above the background noise so that we can hear it? It is but a whisper in our head, a pounding in our heart… are you picking up on it?
“Oh, that my people would listen to me…”Psalms 81:13 ESV
“My sheep hear my voice…”John 10:3-4 ESV
As we close, it is interesting to note that the very last book in the Bible places a very high priority on paying close attention to what the Spirit says. Seven letters were written to seven churches and each of them ends with this phrase –
“… he who has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches…”Revelation 2:7; 11; 17; 29; 3:6; 13; 22 ESV
Additionally, twice in the last chapter of Revelation it speaks to those who hear, and a warning is given. Revelation 21:17-18
Dear friend, I firmly believe that God is speaking in these days. He speaks through Jesus, and His words. He speaks through the Bible, and He also speaks in a gentle, quiet whisper into your heart and mind. His voice will never contradict or violate the Bible and will always encourage your relationship with Him. He speaks to you in your prayers, through other people and will always align with your spiritual calling. As you choose to draw near to God, you will hear His voice clearer, because He will be drawing closer to you too. To that one, the signal of God’s voice is strong and steady. There is no static, no doubt.
We can choose to repair a broken antenna, by turning back to Jesus. We can choose which of the thousands of signals we will tune in to. We can be a scanner that scans a range of frequencies or we can be a scanner that is set to a specific frequency – that of God’s, loving and firm voice.
We can be like Samuel. Whether it be the first, second, third, or fourth time that God speaks to us, we can choose to say, “Speak Lord, for I am listening.”
It is no accident that the greatest command to every Jew is –
“HEAR, O ISRAEL : “Deuteronomy 6:4
Are you hearing God speak to you? Are you picking up God’s voice?
Go with God,
Amazing Monday 4.25.22
Your amazing ear/hearing
At the beginning of each week I have tried to post something on the lighter side and with this post I will continue with that by adding a new category I am calling “Amazing Monday”. In these short, video snip-its I expect to share amazing facts about your body, or Earth, or some other practical factoids and draw some parallels.
Enjoy this first offering.
Keep your hearing happy.