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You’ve probably heard about Derrick Coleman, the 23-year-old running back for the Seattle Seahawks. Derrick made history when he became the first legally deaf player to compete in the NFL. He wasn’t born with this disability. But when he was about three years old, his hearing began to disappear, until finally – the only sounds he could make out were vague noises and tones.
Undaunted, Derrick taught himself to read lips, and continued to pursue his passion for football. His big breakthrough came when the Seahawks signed him in 2012. Only two years later, his team won the Super Bowl in a decisive, 43-8 blow out victory. When the final whistle blew, a great roar exploded across from the sold-out stadium. Derrick, however, could only hear the muffled applause of his thousands of fans as he celebrated on the field with his teammates.
But it didn’t matter, because even though he couldn’t hear them, he knew they were cheering him on.
It’s easy to see a parallel in Derrick’s story to the way we as Christians perceive the voice of God. Often, we have trouble listening the voice of the Spirit calling us to repentance or encouraging us during hard times. The Gospel of John compares us with sheep who have a good shepherd who knows how to get through to the dumb sheep! Jesus did speak audibly and he did appoint his official interpreters, the apostles, who by the Spirit received, preached and wrote what he would have them say on his behalf.
But his Spirit doesn’t speak to us audibly as he did with many of the apostles. He speaks to us most directly and assuredly through the scriptures. And he does provide the Body of Christ with the Holy Spirit and gifted teachers now and down through the ages, helping us hear and better understand his voice. Amazingly, we can also be indirectly reminded of certain aspects of his character by our considering the wonder of the created order.
“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe” (Hebrews 1:1-2).
So when we are having difficulty hearing the voice of God in our lives, we need to remind ourselves that, sometimes, seeing is hearing. Derrick Coleman didn’t have to hear the Seahawks fans to know that they were cheering for him. He only had to lift his head to observe the ovation. May we have the same quality of faith as we continue to listen for the Voice of God in his Word.
I’m Joseph Tkach, Speaking of LIFE.