Chapter 3: I Hear You

And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. Matthew 16:17 (ESV)

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. John 10:27-28 (KJV)

My father recorded the confession of my faith as a four year-old in his diary. I was overcome by my sin and wept in repentance, asking Jesus into my heart. It came out of the blue: my parents hadn’t prompted it in any way. For, just as with Peter, it was not my earthly parents who had called me, but my Heavenly Father:

Matthew 16:17 (ESV) And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.

Isn’t it beautiful to see that on the eve of this disciple’s turning away, Christ was reminding Simon Peter that his destiny was secure because he had heard his Heavenly Father’s call. 

For, as the Word of God reminds us (John 10:27-28, KJV, my emphasis):

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

Beautifully this disciple’s given name Simon in fact also literally means: “He who hears”. And just as Simon was given the grace of God to fulfill his irrevocable calling, so I too was given the grace of God to fulfill my calling in Christ Jesus. And beautifully my given name, Anna, literally means “favor, or grace”, or “to be gracious or compassionate”

As my Mum told me in the last birthday card blessing she penned for me: “You were named after Anna who was waiting at the Temple for the Son of God. He came and she recognized Him immediately.” And why did Anna recognize Jesus immediately? Because the grace of God gave her eyes to see and ears to hear and a heart to know Him.

Just as God gave me eyes to see Him, ears to hear Him and a heart to know Him in my little brother, even in his rebellion. But sadly, when my parents could not recognize what I did, I began to doubt the eyes of Jesus, the Voice of Jesus and the heart of Jesus speaking in me. 

And so, in my unbelief, I was tossed to and fro by the winds of temptation, enticed by my own fleshly desire to be loved and accepted, not by God, but by my own parents, who I began to idolize as God. As Satan accused me of being disobedient and disrespectful of my parents in speaking up on behalf of my brother, I readily agreed. “Yes: I am wrong, and they are right. Yes, I am evil and they are good.” I thought, clothing myself in condemnation and shame.

Little did I realize how potent those lies would become inside of me. Because I did not resist the devil, but leant into my fleshly desires to be loved and accepted by man, I allowed my accuser to infect the pure eyesight, hearing and heart of compassion and grace God had given me. And so, slowly I changed from an exuberant and confident pre-teen to an insecure, reclusive, anti-social teenager.

I began to hide in books that graphically depicted the sexual abuse of women and their fight for justice. Little did I realize that I myself was caught in a cycle of spiritual abuse myself and that these books were expressing my own desire to fight and be freed. But instead of lifting up my desires to my God, who I now no longer trusted, I numbed my pain and my fear away with sin, blinding my eyes, shutting my ears and corrupting my heart. 

Little did I realize that not just me, but also my parents were caught in spiritual abuse, as they clung to a man-made theology encouraging them not to spare the rod, lest they spoil the child. A theology causing more harm, even as they convinced themselves it was the right thing to do.

But praise God He heard our cries. Praise God that even as I hid my sin and pain from Jesus in distrust, unbelief, pride and idolatry, and my parents clung to what was stealing and killing and destroying from them and their children also, Jesus heard both our spoken and unspoken cries.

For, not realizing that their own sin had become a stumbling block to me, my parents continued lifting up their aching hearts in Christ Jesus for me. And likewise, the prayers I had prayed as a little girl for my little brother and my parents continued to waft before the throne of God, even in my running away. For the love of God never dies, He – Jesus in us – always remains.

And so, beautifully, Jesus was faithful to His intercession: hearing my parents’ and my spoken and unspoken cries. Just as He was faithful to His intercession for Peter, for whom He began praying long before he was sifted like wheat (Luke 22:31-32, ESV):

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

As He opened Peter’s, my, my brother’s and my mother’s ears to hear His gentle Voice, slicing through Satan’s accusations of condemnation against us in our sinful turning away, He reminded us all yet again of His Promise to us:

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

And so, when Jesus cried out His “I hear you” through His prayers for us, our hearts cried out in response: “I hear you too, Papa.” as we turned from our sin to run into the favor of our LORD. For, there is now no condemnation for those of us who are in Christ Jesus. Nothing can separate us from the love that is in Christ Jesus: not even three denials, unbelief, doubt, pride, fear of man or idolatry. Praise God!

But not only did our Heavenly Father hear the cries of Jesus to deliver us, He also heard the cries of Jesus to turn what the enemy meant for evil in our lives, into good: for the saving of many lives. 

And how exactly? Through the blood of the Lamb and the word of our living testimony in Christ. Our testimony that glorifies God the Father, who through the blood of His Son Jesus has heard His children’s every cry, and who through God the Son and His Holy Spirit breath, moves to shower us in His favor, grace and compassion.

Why? So that we might become His favor, grace and compassion to the world around us, as we comfort others with the comfort He has given to us through His Word to us.

So trust comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through a word proclaimed about the Messiah. Romans 10:17 CJB

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. John 14:26 (KJV)

Celebrate Jesus and Behold Him Face to Face

Can you remember how Christ set you apart in His choosing of you? Can you remember the pain of that consecration? 

Now, ask the LORD to help you remember particular ways your Prodigal loved ones were set apart unto Him as children. In what ways did they face rejection from those they loved and trusted most? And what could that reveal about God’s irrevocable call upon their lives?

How could God be using their Prodigal journey to prepare their hearts to walk into His purpose for their lives? How could He be honoring a deeper desire He planted within them as little children?

Before we listen to today’s Word for us, I would love to invite you to join me in listening and/or singing along to this song:

As we read the Scripture below, aloud, what word or phrase lingers? Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to reveal why it lingers and what God our Father wants us to hear and do in obedience to His Word to us.

Papa, open our ears to hear Your cries in Your children today. Forgive us for any way we have knowingly and unknowingly closed our eyes, ears and hearts to You. Convict and cleanse us of our sin and convict and reassure us of Your righteousness for us through this Word today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Jeremiah 31:33-34 (ESV)

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