November 1999 was a perfect summer’s evening in Cape Town. An important evening, the opening of our third Ear Institute in Belville, Cape Town. We had a marquee tent in the parking area, a large number of guests attending, some from as far off as Switzerland, and wonderful local food and wines from the Swartland region (in the Malmesbury area where my grandfather and my mother’s brothers used to farm nearly a hundred years ago).
That evening the dedication and opening of the Ear Institute were performed by Rev. Frank Retief (who later became Bishop). His reading was from Luke 8:18, where Jesus explained a parable to his disciples, “Therefore consider carefully how you listen.” What apt words to use during the dedication of an Ear Institute, I thought to myself. “You listen with your ears.” Over the years the words lingered on-and-off in my mind and little did I know it would only obtain its full meaning nearly 20 years later.
Currently, there is a lot of noise going on in our country. Phrases and words like “state capture”, “nationalization” and “expropriation without compensation” are being bandied about, creating fear among many people of all races, and some individuals even emigrating in search of greener pastures. And yet, I keep on hearing the words of Jesus “…consider carefully how you listen.”
Do I listen with a ‘worldly ear’ to the politics of the day and the endless negativity of the people around me, or do I listen with my ‘spiritual ear’ embracing God’s promises for our country and all of its people, with specific reference to where He states, “…forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I’m going to do! For I’m going to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun! Don’t you see it? I will make a road through the wilderness … and create rivers (for them) in the desert!” (Isaiah 43:18 and 19, Living Bible)
The question I constantly have to ask myself is, “With which ear am I listening?” And then I realise that all I can hold onto are God’s promises given to me over the years during my quiet time. His promises are steadfast and forever, so different from human promises that are broken or simply forgotten.
“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. And in those days when you pray, I will listen. You will find me when you seek Me, if you look for Me in earnest.”
(Jeremiah 29:11-13, Living Bible)
“Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.”
(Isaiah 54:4 and 5, New International Version)
This is the truth! All I have to do is “consider carefully” with which ear I listen.