The Bible is full of people who misread the signs of God’s presence. There are many examples to choose from. Eli missed God’s work in Hannah (1 Sam. 1); Naaman didn’t recognize God’s work to heal him (2 Kings 5); and the Jews didn’t recognize God’s work in and through the disciples at Pentecost (Acts 2).
John records an instance when a voice from heaven accompanied some of Jesus’s words:
[Jesus said] “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”
Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. (John 12:27–29)
Two groups of people heard the same thing. Some heard it as thunder; others heard God’s voice speaking. What separated one group from the other? Two groups saw a woman dump an expensive jar of perfume over Jesus’s feet. Jesus saw the act as worship, while the disciples saw waste. What distinguished one view from another?
I want to suggest that in each of these instances, what separated the two groups is something Paul called “the eyes of your heart” (Eph. 1:18) and what Jesus called ears to hear (Matt. 11:15). Or what the writers of the New Testament simply called faith. Faith is an inner disposition or willingness to see. It is a willingness to move beyond sight (what we see and perceive with our senses) into the “assurance about what we do not see” (Heb. 11:1). Faith is a way of seeing the world; it is a way of reading the signs of the presence of God. This is what so often separates those who see and hear from those who don’t.
Erre, Mike. Astonished: Recapturing the Wonder, Awe, and Mystery of Life with God. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook, 2014. Print.