Mrs. Susan, as the 2nd graders called her, was walking out of the main entrance to the church building. She nearly walked right into young Timothy Sadler, who was sitting on the first step leading down to the parking lot.
“Why, hello there Timothy. What are you doing here sitting out front? Is your Dad inside?” She asked as she sat down next to him.
“Hello, Mrs. Susan. Yes, my Dad is in a meeting with Mr. Jensen about the greeters for next week. I’m waiting for him.” Said Timothy
“It’s a very nice day today, huh? Any plans for this afternoon when you leave?” Asked Susan, setting her purse down beside her.
“I don’t think so. We’ll probably do like we always do. Go home so Dad can watch the game. I usually play outside till supper time.” Said Timothy unenthusiastically. He didn’t seem to notice the “niceness” of the day.
“Huh, well its nice to be able to play anyway. You seem a bit down. Everything okay? How’s your Mom, is she still out of town for work?” Asked Susan
“Yes, she’ll be back tomorrow. I guess playing is okay.” Timothy responded, he looked up at Mrs. Susan and cocked his head to one side, squinting one eye against the glare of the sun.
“Mrs. Susan, how does God speak?”
The question seemed to zoom Susan into the spot she sat on and time stood still. Immediately the vastness and complexity of possible methods of answering such a question overwhelmed her.
“Oh my… why I suppose He speaks in many ways, but in His Word the Bible is sure. What made you ask that Timothy?” Susan responded.
“I was thinking of the lesson today. How God told Jonah to go to that place to talk to those people. The Ni…Nivi…” Timothy attempted to sound out his words.
“Ninevites?” Susan prompted
“Yeah.” Said Timothy. “I’ve never heard God talk to me I don’t think. Is it because I’m bad? … But then that can’t be right cause Jonah did bad by not going to that place and God still talked to him, so I am confused.”
“Well, you’re right God doesn’t just talk to the good people. In fact most the time He talks to anyone they are far from good.” Mrs. Susan qualified. “But God speaks in lots and lots of ways. See that dog over there?” Susan noticed Timothy look at the dog playing in a yard down the street, he had smiled when he watched.
Timothy scrunched up his face.
“Yeah… but what does that dog have to do with God speaking?” Timothy asked, looking back at the dog and his antics.
“Well, does the dog make you want to go over and join it, be with it?” Susan asked
“Yeah…” Timothy waited for more explaination.
“Well that’s one way God talks to us. In things around us that make us smile like His creation, creatures, the sky, the ocean, clouds, flowers. It’s His voice saying ‘Hello there Timothy I see you and hope to make you smile at Me’. Sometimes He talks to us through people, like He did through Jonah to the Ninevites or through me during the lesson today, or Moses to the Israeites. And often He talks directly to us, sort of like we’re talking now but we don’t hear His voice with our outer ears but with the ears on the inside. Does that make sense?” Susan took a deep breath hoping she was getting the point across correctly, but feeling like much was left open for interpretation.
Timothy looked up at the sky and then back to the dog and then turned his face up to Mrs. Susan.
“Kind of…I have always thought He liked to make me smile in fun and good things around me, like the sky and clouds and stuff. Not so much with dogs. I like that though. And I know He talks through people, like you and mommy and dad and stuff. I know He made the Bible so everyone could read what He said to and I guess through all those people. But… I’m not sure I got inner ears Mrs. Susan.” Timothy green eyes began to fill with tears and his freckles began to stand out on his nose as his face pinked up with sorrow.
Susan wrapped her arms around Timothy pulling him close.
“There now, sure you have them dear Timothy. God put them inside every single person. Special just for you and Him so noone could interrupt you both when He talks to you. Why, did you know that He loves you so much that only He can speak to you in such a secret and private way that’s not given for anybody else? Even your mom and dad can’t interfere with those talks!” Said Susan, feeling like somehow God was talking to her as much as He was giving her words to speak into Timothy’s confusion.
“Nuh uhh” Timothy shook his head and mumbled. Then He sat back and looked at Mrs. Susan again. “I don’t think He gave those to me, Mrs. Susan cause I don’t hear Him.” The seriousness that settled on young Timothy’s face vied for the determined spirit that seemed to be searching for answers. He was both convinced God spoke to people like He did Jonah but sure somehow God had passed him over in giving him his inner ears.
My, my Father don’t we all feel like that at some time? Please answer Timothy’s little hearts cry to hear You. Help me show him where You already have and do. Susan’s heart reached up and out at the same time.
“Well… let’s see. Have you ever had your outer ears checked? You know, tested to make sure they hear everything they are supposed to?” Susan asked.
“Oh, yeah. At school they had that lady come and test us. With the head phones and beeps and I had to tap which ever ear heard the beeps. I know these ears work good. But they didn’t test me for inner ears… or maybe they did and I didn’t pass that test cause I don’t have them.” Timothy recalled and again looked down, convinced again his inner ears were missing.
“Timothy, you do have them. They don’t have a test like that for inner ears. You see only God can test those. Let me show you now how He does.” Susan paused and waited for God to show her how to “test” little Timmys ears.
Timothy’s face was at attention waiting for his test to begin. Hope faintly beginning to glimmer in his eyes.
“When you are tempted to lie to someone, anyone about anything, what made you pause before you did? And if you did, what made you know in here,” Susan tapped Timothy’s chest over his heart. “That lying was bad?”
Timothy thought for a minute.
“That’s not fair, I already know lying is bad cause mom and dad and everybody told me and I read it in the Bible. I didn’t need inner ears for that.” The hope that had a minute ago glimmered began to flicker out in his eyes.
“Hmmm, well I see what you are saying Timothy but hang in here with me a minute, k? Did your mom and dad and everybody or even the Bible tell you every kind of lie you can tell?”
Susan smiled, I see where You’re going with this Lord!
Again Timothy screwed his face up in violation of the oddness of the questions. “Ummm, well nooo… I mean not every single lie I could ever tell! That would be alot, like books and books!”
“Exactly, so since you haven’t been given all those lies in advanced, how do you know it’s a lie?” Asked Susan
“Well…ummm, I just know. I don’t know how really. I just know. I get really weird inside, feel bad kind of. Usually when I lie, I just don’t want to get in trouble so I fib. Or I want to be liked so I say something not true to make my friends think I’m smart.” So plainly spoken were Timothy’s words. Unguarded.
“Well there you have it! You have inner ears for sure! You see Timothy God’s voice is the one that tells you something is wrong even though noone else can read your mind and know you are going to lie. It’s that thing that makes you feel weird inside and bad when you want to lie or do. God gave that to you. He spoke through your weird and bad feelings, like a warning that it is wrong. No body can lie without that kind of feeling happening. But we don’t feel it with our bodies but with our hearts. That’s where God puts our inner ears. Now answer this next question cause we want to be sure they work exactly the way they are supposed to, right?” Susan was excited. She saw some light dawning on sweet Timothy’s face, hope again bloomed in his eyes.
Timothy shook his head in the affirmative and waited.
“Have you ever been nice to someone that you didn’t know and nobody, like a teacher or your parents or anyone told you to do it. You just saw them and did something nice?” Mrs. Susan asked
“Yeah.” Answered Timothy
“What told you, then, to be nice to that person right then?” Susan asked
“Well… I’ve been told by lots of people that being nice is good. The Bible says that too. So I guess I don’t see that I need inner ears for that.” Said Timothy
“Have you ever been not so nice when you knew you should have been nice?” Asked Mrs. Susan.
“Yes.” Said Timothy
“How did you know you should have been nice? Did someone tell you every time? Or have you just known you should have been before anyone could tell you?” Mrs. Susan prompted, leading slowly. .. waiting for the moment.
“Yes, I have been mean and just knew I shouldn’t have been before I got in trouble.” Timothy followed Mrs. Susan.
“So in the same way, when you have been nice without being told, you must have been prompted inside to be nice to someone at that exact moment with that exact person. Who do you think makes you think that way?” Susan smiled. “You see the very idea of being nice to anyone for any reason comes from God. Anyone who tells us to be nice gets the very idea of it from God. Being nice is God’s territory, not mankind’s. So if you “hear” inside yourself to be nice to someone when you haven’t been asked to by your parents or anyone, that very thought comes from noone but God, you see? God speaks inside by prompting us to do stuff that’s good without anyone asking us. You know His voice because it had that goodness attached to it. Say when you see your mom or dad sad and you reach out to hug them. That’s God’s voice speaking to you. Every good thing we do is from Him. When we obey, when we are nice, when we help someone, when we forgive, when we comfort someone, when we feel badly because we see someone hurt. These things are His voice speaking to our inner ears or hearts and we just don’t think of it that way because we often think it’s our idea, or that it comes natural to us. But the truth is its not our natural responses to do good, it’s God telling us what’s good and we obey.” Susan could see the light getting brighter and brighter in Timothy’s eyes.
“Sometimes God tells us to do good things or be nice and we don’t obey. Usually because we don’t see what He sees and so just like Jonah we don’t obey. We just go our own way and usually end up worse off than if we’d have just obeyed in the first place. That is why that story is in the Bible, God’s voice in print to show us how to listen to Him. That’s where every good thing that can ever be done by anyone comes from. God’s Word – the Bible. That’s where parents get the good stuff to teach us to do and where teachers like me get lessons to teach and pastors too. God’s voice teaches the good and corrects the bad both through people and things around us and inside our hearts when He really wants us to know His love for us. Do you see now Timothy that your hearts ears work fine?” Asked Susan
“Yes. Thank you Mrs. Susan!” Timothy threw his arms around her.
“I was so afraid that God didn’t want to talk to me! But now I see that He talks to me all the time! And He is talking to me right now with you! I have inner ears Mrs. Susan! I do! He could send me somewhere, tell me to do something big like Jonah and I will hear Him! I sure hope I obey Him if He does.” Timothy’s excitement was intoxicating and infectious!
“Oh well I’ve no doubt you will, but even if you don’t at first, remember Jonah Timothy, God will bring you around. If you really listen to Him, for Him, He’ll make sure you do exactly what He asks.” Susan rejoiced at having been delayed by sitting with Timothy.
Timothy’s dad, Mr. Sadler just then emerged from the building.
“Ready to go Timothy? He asked. “Hello Mrs. Susan, lovely day today.”
“Yes, Dad! I have inner ears on my heart made just for God and me! You do too! Did you know that?” Timothy rose and went to his Dad.
“Well yes I did son, indeed. I’ve never heard it quite put like that but that’s exactly right. Is that what you learned in class today?” Mr. Sadler took Timothy’s hand and began to walk out to the car. “God bless you Mrs. Susan.” He said as they walked away. All the while Timothy kept telling his Dad about his inner ears and how they work and that God talks to him.
Mrs. Susan’s smile shone through tears in her eyes, listening to God speak to her own inner ears as she watched them walk away.
“Yes, yes Lord, You are so very good!”
Grace and peace in Yeshua the Messiah