“So what’s the best part about being four and a half years old?” I asked our eldest daughter Elizabeth one drab February afternoon as we frosted cupcakes for her half- birthday celebration at preschool.
“Oh, that’s EASY,” Lizzy responded with a smile spreading across her chocolate-covered face. “I love my new ears.” Immediately my eyes darted to Lizzy’s ordinary looking four-and-a-half-year-old ears.
“Really?” I replied, “When did you get new ears?”
“I don’t know for sure when it happened,” Lizzy explained, “But one night God just slipped into my room while I was sleeping and He cut off my old ears and put on these new ones for me!” Lizzy tugged at her ears with a satisfied grin and sighed with wonder. “I don’t know how He did it, Mom. I didn’t bleed or anything. God must have very special glue.”
Stifling a giggle, I agreed that God is indeed amazing, and then I asked one final question as we packed the cupcakes into boxes. “How are your new ears different than your old ones?”
“Oh,” Lizzy said matter-of-factly, “My new ones hear Jesus. My old ones didn’t do that.”
And so began the adventure of Lizzy’s new ears. For a brief season those ears challenged us to new heights of faith and planted deep within us an ache to know Jesus more intimately. Shortly after receiving her new ears, Lizzy's recurrent struggles with nightmares ceased. Rather than beg for extra night lights, she began to sleep with her Bible just in case Jesus wanted to read her a story in the middle of the night (“He likes to come when I’m feeling afraid of the dark, Mom”). She reported the whereabouts of angels, welcomed messages of her Savior’s love, and accepted Divine words of advice (“I was going to take Hannah’s blankie, but God told me not to!”). The stories changed from day to day, but the child-like faith that accompanied them did not.
Like the jingle of Santa's bell in the classic Christmas tale The Polar Express, Lizzy's ability to hear from Heaven seemed to fade with age. Eventually, those new ears turned back into just ordinary old tools for listening. Now eleven years old, Lizzy no longer hears from angels or hosts story time with her Heavenly Father while the rest of us slumber. She, does, however, still hold a passionate love for the Savior whose voice once filled her ears and wooed her heart.
This year, Lizzy's Christmas list is filled with typical pre-teen girl wishes- crackle nail polish and Nike flip flops, CDs and pajama pants. Her mom's list, however, is rather short. All I want for Christmas is a new pair of ears- a fresh set attached with special glue, or just a modification of the thirty-eight-year-old ones I’ve been living with. Doesn’t matter to me, I just want the kind that hear Jesus.
While the voices of the media report how many shopping days remain and the speaker systems in every store echo with crackling strains of Jingle Bell Rock, I want to hear from the Rock of Ages. I’d let Him read me a story or tell me His own- complete with glorious details of angels and shepherds and bright shining stars. I’d welcome messages of His love and would even accept some advice from my stable-born King. (“I know children are precious in your sight, Lord, but what do YOU suggest I do with my precious two-year old who is throwing a tantrum on the grocery store floor right now?) I've never seen them advertised in a Black Friday ad, but I’d love to start the New Year with a new fangled pair of ears.
Of course, maybe I should start by adjusting the hearing on the pair I've got. I could start by slowing down during this fast-paced season long enough to listen. I could trade in a few hours of fancy holiday baking for a take-out-pizza picnic with my kids at the foot of the Christmas tree. Or turn off those Christmas specials on T.V. and grab my Bible instead. And if I really wanted an overhaul on these old sound receivers of mine, I could spend a little less time at the mall so that I can share a quiet night in December with my husband counting our blessings instead of adding up our credit card bill.
I don’t know if I’ll find a pair of new ears stashed in my stocking on Christmas morning, but I have a feeling that if I took time to turn this old pair towards the manger, I might decide that listening to my Savior’s whisper is the best part of being thirty-nine-and-a-half years old!
The Overflow: Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth… He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak… those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40:28, 29, 31).