Let’s just go ahead and agree on the fact that ears are really weird looking. I regularly have people complement me on my blue eyes but not one time in my life has anyone ever said to me, “you have beautiful ears.” And my guess is that this has never happened to you either. Ears just look funny.
But our ears are one of the most incredible, as well as incredibly complex, parts of our anatomy. In my humble but accurate opinion only God could create something so intricate. The human ear certainly did not just happen by accident.
A simplified explanation of how hearing works goes like this: Sound waves flow into the outer ear, floating along the ear canal until they reach the eardrum. The eardrum starts vibrating, a subtle action that alerts the three bones comprising the ossicles (the incus, malleus, and stapes) located in the middle ear. The middle ear works like an amplifier and makes these sounds louder before shooting them off to the cochlea in the inner ear. Fluids inside the cochlea start to ripple from the vibrations. Then, a wave forms along the basilar membrane (the border between the upper and lower parts of the cochlea). Hair cells along the basilar membrane dance and bend, brushing against surrounding structures and creating electrical signals. Those signals move to the brain, and we hear them as sounds that we can successfully identify.
And here are a few fun facts about the ear for your edification:
- The incus, malleus, and stapes (also known as the hammer, anvil, and stirrup) are the smallest bones in the human body
- The ear contains more than 20,000 hair cells.
- Sound waves travel at 770 miles per hour, or at 1,130 feet per second.
- Ears don’t just help you hear; they also help you keep your balance.
- The middle ear is connected to the throat by the Eustachian tube. The Eustachian tube is responsible for striking the balance between the atmospheric pressure and body pressure.
- Your ears can affect your sense of taste. This is because of the nerve, chorda tympani, which connects your taste buds to your brain by navigating through the middle ear.
Now why I am I telling you all this? Well I have a whole new appreciation for the ear. I used to take my hearing for granted but no more. Turns out that I have recently lost about 80% of the hearing in my right ear. Cause unknown. (I did have an MRI of my brain to make sure there was not any kind of tumor involved.) So if you ever think that I am not listening to you it may very well be that I am just not hearing you. I have tried to help Nona understand this but it sort of comes out sounding more like an excuse than an explanation.
Jesus often used the phrase “he who has ears to hear, let him hear.” The people that did not want to hear anything that Jesus said probably replied “Thank you Captain Obvious.” But Jesus’ point was that everybody has ears but NOT everybody hears. My encouragement to you is to never take those two weird shaped things on the side of your head for granted. Listening well is one of the best ways that you can honor God and His Word and one of the best gifts that you can give to other people. And here is a verse to ponder and to definitely NOT let go in one ear and out the other…
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5).
This is probably the most fundamental verse in the Older Testament and the first verse that Jews learn as young children. It begins with the word hear – which in Hebrew is the word “shema.” I’ll tell you more about “The Shema” in my next epistle. In the meantime, take a good look at your ears, laugh a little and thank God for those miraculous anatomical body parts.
Never forget that you are very loved!