Can You Hear Him Now? – 3rd post in the series

Hi friends~ This is the third post in the series on “Hearing from the Lord” – and it’s a wonderful post! Arabah Joy is its writer, and I know that you’ll be blessed by this story and the wisdom she shares.

Blessings to you this week, my friends…
And, a heartfelt thanks for your prayers for this past weekend. It was great, and we got to see God work in many ways. 🙂

Soaring Cormorant

A couple years ago, I sat down to watch a documentary called “The Mysterious Islands.” On the film, they talked in depth about the Galapagos Island cormorant bird. This bird is the only cormorant species in the world that cannot fly.

Perplexed by this, researchers went to work finding out the cause for this lack of flight. They discovered that life on the Galapagos Islands was very easy for the birds. The cormorant was not hunted by predators, which meant it was not forced to fly.
Furthermore, the cormorant relied on his diving skills rather than his flying skills to find food. The Island cormorant became excellent at diving, even though diving was a secondary skill. Over time, the bird’s body adapted to how it was being used and the lack of flying until he became unable to fly.

As I watched this film, the Lord spoke to my heart: “The American church is like that cormorant bird.”

I was heartbroken. I knew God was telling me that as a whole, His children in America had come to rely so much on secondary blessings, such as wealth and abundance and tips and strategies and flashy resource after resource… that we have stopped living from our primary gifting- the Holy Spirit.

Flightless Cormorant - Galápagos Islands

Flightless Cormorant of the Galapogas Islands

Like the cormorant bird, the American church knows how to dive. We know how to get our needs met and dip into the abundance of resources we have. Life is good. We know how to host conferences and build buildings and put on grand performances. We have lots of resources and know how to use them.

While there is nothing “wrong” with diving and using our resources, I do believe we have forgotten how to soar.

I have had the privilege of living in other cultures where the Christians don’t have all these things. In fact, daily reliance on God is the only thing they have. Boy are they rich!! They have the power of God on their lives. They know how to soar.
No matter what our Christian culture does, as individuals we can choose to soar. Read Acts 3 and let the Holy Spirit speak very personally to you:

“Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple.
Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”(Acts 3:1-6 ESV)

The lame man was expecting a coin, some token thrown his way that would keep him surviving. In fact, it says he daily came out for his alms. And where did he hang out for these mere coins? The temple. The religious institution.

But Peter gave him something totally unexpected: full healing in the name of Jesus.

It makes me ask: What tokens are we accustomed to receiving? I wonder if we associate books and podcasts and conferences and workbooks with spiritual abundance when perhaps they are mere tokens? They keep us surviving but we keep needing more, day after day, week after week. They are never enough.

Are we eating scraps off the table when God has something far greater that He intends for us?

Peter didn’t have any gold. No shiny alm to make the man feel good and prop him up one more day.  Peter had the power of God.

I have a question for you: Are you a “silver and gold” kind of Christian? Or are you a “get up and walk” kind of Christian?

Are you surviving on token Christianity? Or have you come to the place where you lay all of that down for a Spirit filled life that is full of power?
I’m not saying we shouldn’t make the most of what we have. I am saying these cannot be the object of our reliance. If it means not having them in order to have something greater, we must be willing.
I am absolutely, positively convinced that God desires His people to live powerful, get up and walk kind of lives. I’m sure of it because His word is clear.

I am also convinced that most of us have grown up in a “silver and gold” paradigm of Christianity and, although we long for a more powerful, dynamic walk with the Lord, we are stuck in the wrong paradigm.

For the past two weeks, Jennifer and I have been discussing the spiritual sense of “Hearing.” I believe one hindrance to us hearing God and living a powerful Christian life is the reliance on secondary skills, blessings, talents, and resources. Over-emphasis on these things have caused us to become dull of hearing.

“Concerning this we have much to say which is hard to explain, since you have become dull in your [spiritual] hearing and sluggish.
For even though by this time you ought to be teaching others, you actually need someone to teach you over again the very first principles of God’s Word. You have come to need milk, not solid food.
For everyone who continues to feed on milk is obviously inexperienced and unskilled in the doctrine of righteousness (of conformity to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action), for he is a mere infant [not able to talk yet]!
But solid food is for full-grown men, for those whose senses and mental faculties are trained by practice to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good and noble and what is evil and contrary either to divine or human law.
Therefore let us go on and get past the elementary stage in the teachings and doctrine of Christ (the Messiah), advancing steadily toward the completeness and perfection that belong to spiritual maturity.”
~Hebrews 5:11-6:1a

This passage tells us that when we become dull of hearing, we fail to train the spiritual senses we need for spiritual maturity. We are like that cormorant bird whose flying muscles atrophy due to lack of use. Habitually hearing God and acting on what He says is essential for steady spiritual growth. It is how Peter knew to walk over to that lame man and tell him, “Get up and walk!”

Training our spiritual senses through constant use is required for living a “get up and walk” kind of life. We’ve got to use those spiritual muscles and soar!

To help personalize this and make it useful in our lives, let me close with a few questions. It will help if you jot them down and then write the answers down as you prayerfully consider them. Writing things down helps solidify them.

1. Spiritually, what “tokens” are you relying on to keep going? Prayerfully identify anything you are relying on in lieu of His Spirit. List them as specifically as you can.
2. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the the Word of God.” The surest way to develop your hearing is to increase your intake of the Word. How can you get more word of God into your day? Brainstorm ideas, then adopt the most realistic one or two. Work on incorporating them into your life this week. {For the Bibles I use, click here}
3. This week, when you are tempted to reach for one of the “silver or gold” tokens you have identified, turn to Christ instead. Ask Him to fill you with His promised living water (see John 4:10) Pray Samuel’s prayer, “Speak Lord, for Your servant is listening.” Then wait expectantly for Him to speak.

Let’s exercise this week, friends!! As always, you are invited to share in the comments. Let’s be iron on iron for the glory of God! Your thoughts, insights, questions, even disagreements are welcome 🙂

Soar, my friend. Soar.

Jennifer and I will be back next week with more in this series. You can subscribe to Arabah and Smelling Coffee to make sure you get upcoming posts in this series.


Related: Post One in this series
Post Two in this series

About SmellingCoffee

I'm a Jesus-loving, husband-loving, family-loving minister's wife and mom to two college kids, making our home and serving our Lord in the Mississippi Delta. I study, teach, speak, and write for the greatest Boss in the universe. "Faith, Family, Food, Fun, and Living Life brewed in the fragrance of the knowledge of Jesus Christ in every place": That's what you'll find at


  1. This post resonates with me and my life. The Lord has been teaching me so many of these things through the circumstances that he has taken us through — it is so good to hear it spelled out here in a tangible way. The Lord has taken me/us (our family) to a place where we’re not receiving the tokens of the faith so that we will dive into Him and thereby be able to soar! This post has helped renew my perspective & my thankfulness & my resolve to continue to pursue the Spirit and His power!

    • Praise the Lord, Kathleen! He is so good to remove those props from our lives, even though it is sometimes painful and scary. So thankful you recognize what He is doing and have the faith to surrender! Thanks for sharing and being an encouragement to me today.

      • Kathleen, I’m so glad that God used these words to help renew your perspective and thankfulness and resolve! It keeps us encouraged to remember this, doesn’t it? Love you, girl~