The Art Of Listening
Author Trisha White Priebe gives us an exclusive look into her new Sherlock Holmes inspired devotional.

There is no part of the body which varies so much as the human ear.”
--"The Adventure of the Cardboard Box" 

Sherlock Holmes. The world’s first consulting detective whose services are equal parts eccentric and extraordinary.

For more than one hundred years, writers have created variations and spin-offs of the unconventional detective— crafting characters who are wholly unsympathetic and utterly brilliant. Novelists and scriptwriters alike in the twenty- first century often attribute the inspiration behind their curmudgeon characters to the detective in the deerstalker cap.

Sherlock Holmes is truly the man, the myth, the legend. Literature is littered with famous detectives—G. K. Chesterton’s Father Brown, Edgar Allan Poe’s Dupin, Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, and Carolyn Keene’s Nancy Drew— to name a few, but none are as well known or fiercely loved as Sherlock Holmes. He is timeless in his fan base and enduring in his readership. Students of the great detective cherish their well-worn copies of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories with as much loyalty today as they did in 1887 when Sherlock Holmes first dashed onto the published page.

So what makes Sherlock Holmes great? Simply put, he had abnormally sharp senses. He could hear and see things missed by the ordinary man. In fact, in one of Doyle’s short stories, “The Adventure of the Three Gables,” it is even implied that the mastermind could smell things missed by everyone else—identifying a stranger on his doorstep as coming from the odorous Old Nichol, an area of East London where the worst criminals did their horrific deeds.

This uncanny attention to detail enables Sherlock to solve the most intimidating crimes without so much as a hint of anxiety. Fans of Sherlock Holmes read the mysteries— not to see if, but to marvel how he will solve them.

“The Adventure of the Cardboard Box” is another of the fifty-six original short stories featuring Sherlock Holmes. The story begins, so Doyle writes, on “a blazing hot day in August. Baker Street was like an oven, and the glare of the sunlight upon the yellow brickwork of the house across the road was painful to the eye.” Enter Miss Susan Cushing, a woman with a placid face and large, gentle eyes. She had received a package in the mail containing two severed hu- man ears. Miss Cushing is understandably horrified, but the police are convinced it was nothing more than a practical joke, played on Miss Cushing by medical students with too much time on their hands and an extra cadaver in their possession. Sherlock Holmes does not agree with the police and quickly begins to make his case that the ears were actually the evidence of a grizzly crime.

Sherlock Holmes will be right, of course. Sherlock Holmes is always right.

As the story unfolds, Holmes makes the famous statement: “There is no part of the body which varies so much as the human ear.” And while in the story he was speaking specifically about the organ that detects sound, the same could be said about the act of listening.

One of the most passionately debated topics within Christianity today involves hearing the voice of God. Few Christians would deny that God speaks to His children, but how, where, when, and why are matters of endless debate.

Where should I go to college? Whom should I marry? What career should I pursue? Where should I live?

These questions—and others like them—are just the tip of the iceberg as it pertains to knowing and doing God’s will. Like Samuel in the Old Testament, we wish to say, “Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears” (1 Samuel 3:9), yet we aren’t entirely sure what we should listen for in response. We know our obligation is to hear and heed, but how?

The answer lies in the indisputable, indestructible, all- sufficient Word of God. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the Bible is alive and active. The opposite of an outdated volume left to gather dust on a shelf, the Bible works like a surgeon, care- fully cutting away the dead parts of our hearts and breathing life into our weary souls. Better still, the Bible contains the answer to every question we will ever ask that pertains to our obedience to God. Our heavenly Father does not act as a type of Easter Bunny, hiding His will in tiny colored eggs and waiting for us to discover them. He wants us to know His will for our lives.

We need no extra system. God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. The truth is that God is and always has been more devoted to His will than we will ever be, so that if we go to Him in prayer with a humble heart and the desire to obey, He will always meet us with grace and guidance in a voice that is unmistakably His.

Prayer and Bible reading are the clearest means we have to hear the voice of God.

Speak, for your servant hears.”
--1 Samuel 3:10 (ESV)

Trisha White Priebe is a wife, mom, writer, editor, social media coordinator, and professional reader.

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