Ears to hear

This morning I was reading a series of parables taught by Jesus, and I was struck by how often Jesus said, "He who has ears, let him hear," and "Blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear." Everyone Jesus talked to had ears and eyes, but not everyone heard what Jesus said. Some were paying attention of other voices. Jesus was speaking to those who were spiritually tuned in, or as we used to say in CB radio days, "People who had their ears on." Lots of people heard Jesus, but fewer listened to him, and fewer still let him speak directly into their life. They are the ones Jesus blessed.

l woke up early this morning, at 5:40 AM, to get ready for my men's class, and the song lyric running through my head as I got out of bed was, "Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see,” from Strawberry Fields Forever by John Lennon. John was correct. It’s a lot easier to stumble through life not seeing the world and people around us; it was easier for the crowd to hang around Jesus if they kept their ears and eyes closed. Easier, but they missed the encounter with the Son of God. They misunderstood what they saw, thinking he was merely a miracle-working holy man, missing the Savior of the World.

The reason I was singing Strawberry Fields in my head first thing this morning was, well, I’m singing one song or another in my head almost all the time, and quite often the song is my first thought in the morning, but I was singing John Lennon in my head because I have been watching a movie this week called Across The Universe. My son, Byron, bought the movie for me a year ago, and he asked if I'd watched it whenever we talked. I finally watched it this week. It’s a musical based on songs by The Beatles and set in New York City in the late I960s. It has been playing inside my head all week.

I found myself walking down the sidewalk listening to the guitar riff from Come Together. And then I drove by Cyndi’s school say hello and to flirt with her, and in my head I was singing, "Dear Prudence, won’t you come out and play.”

Then I was working on some writing and in my head I heard, "There is nothing you can do that can't be done, nothing you can say that can it be sung, there is nothing you can know that isn't known, nothing you can see that isn’t shown." I don’t know whether those lyrics helped or hurt the writing process, but they wouldn’t go away, and I didn’t really mind.

There are some movies that I can watch and enjoy and appreciate before filing them away in my memory for future reference. Other movies simply take over my life for a few days. I’ve learned not to fight the take-over, but to wallow in it. I’ll watch a particular movie several times and let it sink in. Most of the time I'm not even sure which images affect me; I just know I need to linger in the experience.

This week I was also listening to an audio book titled, "My Revolutions," by Hari Kunzru. It was about a 1960s radical-turned-terrorist, living quietly under a new name with a family that didn't know his history, who finds his past catching up with him. Reading (or listening to) that book, and watching the movie, put my brain firmly into the late I960s all week.

In real time I was too young to understand the I960s. I was too young to appreciate The Beatles until I was in college, long after they had broken up. I was too young to be a hippie; in fact, I'm not sure we actually had any hippies in Kermit, Texas. I did grow my hair out in the I970s, but I was never a hippie. And I certainly never lived like the characters in the movie or the book. Yet, I couldn’t shake them off.

So thinking about what Jesus said, one reason I read my Bible is to keep my eyes and ears open. I want the words and character of God to haunt me though the rest of the day in the same way that movie did. Even if I don't have a specific verse in mind or a point to ponder, I know if I just read and wallow in it, it will make me a better man. I don't want to misunderstand what I see. I don't want to live an easy life with my eyes closed. I want to live with open eyes and open ears. I want to be blessed.



“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32


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