I’ve never heard the audible voice of God. I’ve met people who have, and I’ve always kinda envied that. Of course, part of me is cautious about being eager for the experience. Seems like there’s a much greater responsibility and accountability when God goes out of his way to get our attention. I mean, he might send us to India, right?
That’s certainly one way God can get his point across to us. And most of us remember that lesson from Sunday School about Elijah on the mountain seeking God. A great wind began shredding the mountain top, but God was not in the wind. Then an earthquake, and then a fire — the original “Earth, Wind and Fire”. And God wasn’t in any of them. Finally, it was in the still, small voice that God spoke to him. (1 Kings 19) We learn from this that God most often speaks to us quietly, usually from deep inside us, and we can easily miss it if we’re caught up in other things.
But that’s the tricky part, isn’t it? We usually are too busy, too distracted by the whirlwind of life going on around us, or too messed up with conflicting ideas and desires, to hear that quiet whisper. Good thing God is persistent.
I’ve recently re-learned the value of God’s alternative method: other people in our lives. If we’re looking for some real direction from God, if we need a specific piece of advice or guidance, and we’ve put our time in on our knees seeking that wisdom from heaven, it is then up to us to put our earphones on. We need to be expecting God to reach us somehow — remember that other famous verse, “God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him”? Sure, some of our friends may be blessed with the gift of prophesy who can give us the “thus saith the Lord” over dessert at the Olive Garden. But we can hear God speak to us just as clearly through the words of others if we stay attentive. Of course those words need to line up with our own inner sense of truth — we’ve all been given bad advice by well-meaning people before. But when those words from the mouths of friends echo that little nagging feeling we’ve been carrying around, that’s the confirmation we’re been looking for.
In my own quest, I’ve been pressing God for that “next step”, the “what’s next?” question that’s been churning inside me for months now. My friend Michael gave me his impression of “thus saith the Lord” several months ago, but it wasn’t finding fertile ground in my heart. I wasn’t ready yet, not ripe enough for it to produce fruit. (Seems he’s always WAY ahead of the curve when it comes to insight. Either that or I’m always way behind.) But in the past few weeks that relentless soul searching kicked up a notch. And making a deliberate effort to put the question to God every morning until I get my answer, I’ve been more deliberately listening for clues — on the inside and from others. This past week, after two independent events refocused my attention on a particular area I’d been ignoring, I discovered I was finally receptive enough for that idea given months back. Then came the note from a friend I greatly respect. And she hit the same theme, but this time with a little more directness: “do this now!”
Okay, okay. I surrender. After months of hounding God with my inquiries, I’ve stopped the perpetual second-guessing (“could it be this…?”) and toying with other options (“maybe it’s this”). I’ve embraced the seminal idea that’s been in front of me all this time, now spelled out clearly to me by the insightful wisdom of my friends.
What that particular direction is, isn’t really the point here. It’s gonna be different for each of us. What is important is that when we feel that inner churning, sensing a change ahead, like a new chapter is about to begin, we need to be sensitive to the subtle promptings coming from deep inside us. Log them, take note of them. And if we’re too wound up to hear absolutely clearly from God ourselves, confirmation can come from those we surround ourselves with.
When our ears are plugged with the peanut butter of daily concerns, and there are no hurricane winds, earthquakes or fiery blazes pointing out the divine path before us, sometimes the Voice of God will come through the words of our friends.