Living With “Tilted Heads” — and Listening

By James Robison Published on April 22, 2015

JAMES ROBISON — Have you ever noticed that when you speak to dogs, they often tilt their head to the side as if they’re trying to understand you?  It’s the cutest thing in the world. I have no idea what their brains comprehend, but their body language says, “I’m listening and really trying to understand what you’re saying!”

We know that dogs, birds and a few other animals can at least match enough sounds to respond to commands such as “sit” or “stay.” Many pets seem to know their own names. Yet, when we say a similar-sounding word with the same voice inflection, they are easily fooled. You can tell an obedient dog to “stray” with the same tone as “stay” and the dog will not know the difference.

Many people are as uncomprehending as animals when it comes to hearing the Holy Spirit. We can be tone deaf to God, even though we know He’s speaking to us. We don’t know when to “stay” and when to “stray,” because we cannot distinguish between that “still small voice” of God and other spiritual influences. In fact, we often cannot tell the difference between a spiritual sound and our own thoughts. Through the prophet Isaiah God described his people as ones “Who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts” (Isaiah 65:2, NASB).

When I see a dog tilting its head to the side, yearning to understand the words of its master, I see the posture that we must take with our Master, our Father and our God. We must live with “tilted heads,” seeking not only to hear God, but also to understand what He is saying. As believers we must seek to hear and know God’s truth, but also seek to have understanding.

Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived and the writer of Proverbs, repeatedly said that wisdom that comes from above is understanding. He affirmed the idea that man can gain godly wisdom, if we will only learn to hear.

Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.
Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding.
Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures.
Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God. For the Lord grants wisdom!
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:2-6, NLT)

If you want your faith to grow, you must learn to hear. How do you hear? Through the word of God. In the book of Romans, we are taught that “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17, NIV) His word is available for you to read, study and pray for understanding (which comes through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit).

It’s easy for most of us to find God’s words, which are available in many translations. It takes effort to actually hear the word. Just like a dog tilting its head when it hears the sound of its master’s voice, we must listen not just for the audible sound or written word; we must actually comprehend the meaning, in order to truly hear. We must understand what Christ is saying to us. I have asked God to help me live with my head continually tilted and with a sincere desire to hear clearly and understand.

When Betty and I look back over the growth of our three children, I find one of the most comforting realities is that I continually sought not only to give directions and instructions to our children, but I really did seek to give them understanding. I wanted them to know why it was important for them to stay within the boundaries. As an example, why they shouldn’t play in the street because of potential danger. It wasn’t a matter of Betty or me trying to limit their joy and pleasure, but rather to extend it by keeping them out of danger.

I’ll never forget driving toward our home one day when the kids noticed some pancake-shaped, flattened frogs on the road. They reacted to the gruesome sight and I said, “See, that’s why you don’t play in the street!”

Who would have thought that a dead frog could become an illustration to impart understanding to children? But God wants us to comprehend His truth and grasp as much of His nature as possible. Mankind may be limited by our natural abilities, but God is not limited in His supernatural possibilities. Creation bears witness to His truth. We can hear it and live it, but we must live with a tilted head, seeking understanding from God.


 — Taken from the book: God of All Creation: Life Lessons from Pets and Wildlife by James Robison

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