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Do You Have Ears to Hear

This week the blog is sponsored by Dwell and written by Jeff McFadden.

As I write this it’s mid-July, which means that, for many of us, it’s been 5 or 6 months since we fell off the wagon of the annual I’m-going-to-read-the-Bible-in-a-year train. The new year’s hope and optimism was knocked aside in the busyness of spring, and what summer offers in the way of time feels sapped away by heat and travel.

One of the constant struggles of my life has been reading God’s word regularly. I’ve had some great runs, but even in the midst of those, I’ve found myself falling into the trap of treating Bible reading as a kind of “Christian Chore” rather than an act of getting to know (and become known by) the God of the universe. After enough forced-morning-skimming sessions it’s easy to throw up your hands and wonder why you’re even bothering to jump through your own legalistic hoops.

And yet, the Bible answers back to us the importance of knowing God’s word, “that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.” (Luke 1:4, ESV), “that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3, ESV), and “for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

As David Mathis says, “The one who created us—and sustains us moment by moment (Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3)—has expressed himself to us in human words, and it is vital that we listen.” (Hear His Voice, emphasis mine).

For millennia the primary way that God’s people heard his voice was by listening to someone else speaking it — the world literacy rate didn’t cross 50% until 1950. Having a personal Bible in your home, and being able to read it, is an astonishingly new experience. And while the grace of having God’s word accessible to us on our bedside should not be understated, it’s worth asking ourselves if we’re truly experiencing God’s word to the fullest if our only experience with it is reading it at the kitchen table.

Listening is a dramatically different experience than reading. It activates different parts of our brains, helping us form new and different connections, and pulls on different parts of our heart. In a very practical way, it brings a freshness to scripture by changing the typical tone and pace that we’re accustomed to as we read. That freshness helps us stay engaged, especially when the recording quality is high, as in an app like Dwell.

While simply listening to stories we’re familiar with can give us a new perspective, listening has other advantages. When paired with the ability to repeat content quickly, listening becomes a powerful tool for memorization (Psalm 119). And when that repetition is slowed down it becomes a powerful tool for meditation and reflection (Psalm 1).

And, frankly, there are just some seasons in life when listening to God’s word on the way to work (or while doing chores, or exercising) is the only way we’re going to hear it at all.

If you’ve never tried a Bible listening app like Dwell, download it today and give it a try. Start a listening plan and work through a book of the Bible on your drive to work. Listen to a few stories you’re familiar with and see what jumps out at you. What’s been there the whole time that you’ve unintentionally skimmed over? Then, turn on Dwell Mode (the app’s repeat feature), slow down and experience the richness of meditation and reflection.

Don’t give in to the Christian Chores mentality of Bible reading. Pick up Dwell, start listening, and “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3:16a, ESV).

Try out Dwell today and start transforming the way you experience Scripture…by having it read over you.

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