And He said to them, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” —Mark 4:9 nkjv

It is possible to hear God’s Word with our ears, but not with our hearts. Jesus knew that oftentimes we can hear without understanding; this is why He would so often say, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” If we were to paraphrase that in our modern language, Jesus would be saying, “Pay attention to what I’m saying. Listen carefully to what I am telling you right now.” He who has ears to hear, let him hear…It is attention with intention.

I do quite a bit of traveling and when I get on a plane and take my seat, I really do not listen carefully to the safety messages that the flight attendants give before every single flight. They have a long list of information they give to you, pointing out the exits, the location of the oxygen masks, and life vests. But often I do not pay attention. Instead I may look at a magazine. Because I have heard it so many times, I think I don’t need to listen.

What if a few minutes after takeoff the pilot came on the intercom again and said something like this? “We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties, and the flight attendant is going to go through that safety message for you one more time.” I can guarantee you that I would be listening. Why? Because my life would depend on it. I would really want to know where those exits are, how to use my seat as a flotation device, and what steps I might need to take to survive an emergency.

When you think about it, this is how we need to be reading the Word of God. Not just as a tedious part of our morning routine, where we skim a passage without really thinking about it. No, we need to listen carefully to what God has to say to us. It is attention with intention, listening with the desire to apply what we have read to our own daily situations. So much depends on that infusion of wisdom and life—probably more than we will ever know.