Austin Chapman was born profoundly deaf. Little wonder he never developed an ear for music. "All music," he explained, "sounded like trash through my hearing aids." Why, he wondered, would people make fools of themselves, gyrating on the dance floor or getting emotional when they heard a favorite song?
Then one day he tried on a new pair of hearing aids. He tells what happened next—"I sat in the doctor's office, frozen as a cacophony of sounds attacked me. The whir of the computer, the hum of the AC, the clacking of the keyboard."
That night friends decided to give him a crash course on music. He listened to Mozart, Elvis, Michael Jackson and more.
"When Mozart's ‘Lacrimosa' came on," Chapman explains, "I was blown away by the beauty of it. At one point of the song it sounded like angels singing and I suddenly realized that this was the first time I was able to appreciate music. Tears rolled down my face, and I tried to hide it….I finally understood the power of music."
Chapman's story reminds me of my first encounter with God. Before that, everything I had heard about him sounded a lot like "trash coming through hearing aids." It didn't move me. It left me cold. But then God surprised me by being real, by helping me see that the god I had rejected didn't even exist. When the real God showed up, he changed my life. He upended my world. He blew my mind.
And he keeps doing it. Not every day but on occasion, surprising me, taking me off guard, shattering my false images of him. And that is true for most of us as we live out the Christian life. In our sanest moments, we realize that the most important thing we can do is to pursue God, to hound him, asking for a clearer revelation of who he is because it's in his presence that life and joy are to be found. Everything else—all the good things that clamor for our worship—these are mere trinkets, tinfoil reflections of his glory.
The Old Testament prophets railed against idolatry, linking it to blindness. Listen to Isaiah describing those who worship idols: "They know nothing, they understand nothing; their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see, and their minds closed so they cannot understand. No one stops to think, no one has the knowledge or understanding to say, ‘Half of it I used for fuel; I even baked bread over its coals, I roasted meat and I ate. Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left? Shall I bow down to a block of wood?' He feeds on ashes, a deluded heart misleads him…." (Isaiah 44:18)
Indeed throughout Scripture we see this link between God's judgment and the dulling of our human senses. Jesus, the man famous for opening the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf, makes this link crystal clear: "‘For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.'
If we want to see God, we have to forsake false images when we are given the grace to recognize them. Human vision, of course, is always impaired. Our deluded hearts can mislead us. We see but only to the extent that God deigns to open our eyes—the eyes of the blind.
Perhaps what we need most is not what Austin Chapman needed—a crash course on music—but a crash course on God. As we immerse ourselves in God's self-revelation, found within the pages of the Bible, we need to pray that his Spirit will show us who he really is.
Ann Spangler is an award-winning writer and speaker. Her best-selling books include Praying the Names of God, Praying the Names of Jesus, Women of the Bible (coauthored with Jean Syswerda) and Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus (coauthored with Lois Tverberg). Her fascination with and love of Scripture have resulted in books that have opened the Bible to a wide range of readers. Together, her books have sold nearly 3 million copies. For the chance to win a free copy of one of Ann's books visit her website at: annspangler.com
 Dylan Stableford, "Deaf man with new hearing aid hears music for the first time, asks, ‘What I should listen to next?'" Yahoo! News, The Sideshow (August 9, 2012) posted on http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/deaf-man-hears-music-first-time-143827917.html
 For this insight I am indebted to Adrian Crum at Haven Ministries.