I know them, and they follow me.”
— John 10:27
is so great that I look and do not see,
listen and do not hear.”
— Mother Teresa in a letter
to the Rev. Michael Van Der Peet,
We stood in a circle of souls linked by hands and hearts. And when we bowed our heads to pray, I heard what you said.
I was on the far side of a circle of thirty-some souls, but I heard you.I really heard you. For I’ve felt those words in my marrow.
You courageously cried out to God, and to us.
Voice shaking, you asked the question: “What does it really mean to hear God’s voice? Because I don’t hear Him speaking to me.”
And in the unspoken places of your voice, I heard this question as well: How come everyone else hears God’s voice, and I hear only painful silence?
We Christians make it seem so easy, don’t we? We toss around words like: “God spoke to me the other day,” or “I heard God tell me to ….”
And surely, people do hear the voice of God. But when the deafening silence consumes, we wonder privately: What have I done wrong, that He doesn’t speak to me?
I found one Christian website today that inferred that if we aren’t hearing God’s voice, then we must not be listening.
The author wrote: “Hearing the voice of God is as natural as hearing your best friend talk to you.”
And then I think of the silence I’ve felt in my own groping to hear the Voice of Truth.I’ve never heard Him speak audibly.
But I have heard Him speak in other ways, Laura.
He says that His sheep know His voice, and this stumbling, bumbling sheep finds His voice in these places, speaking softly in the soul. I’m learning still to hear Him speak like this:
IN HIS WORD: This is how I tune into God’s voice, by daily reading His Word. I’ve taken tomemorizing passages so that I can hide His Word — the very Voice of God — in my heart. When we know Scripture, we can hear His Truth — His very Voice — without holding the Book in our hands and without hearing the audible Voice.
HEARING HIM IN SONG: I tune into God by tuning into music. Each day, before my time of prayer and study, I open Grandma Taylor’s Cokesbury Worship Hymnal to sing His truths. And, if I listen in my spirit, I know He sings with andover me.
OTHER PEOPLE: Just yesterday, I was lamenting in the Psalms, and pouring out my heart to God. Then the phone rang. The friend said: “I called to pray with you today. I know you’re having a tough week.” And that’s what she did, right there on the phone. Tears flowed down these cheeks. Yes! God speaks through other people who seem to call at just the right time. This, I believe, is neither chance nor coincidence, but a “God-incidence.”
QUIET IMPRESSIONS IN THE SPIRIT: I have no doubt that some people hear God speak audibly. But for many of us, we only hear the Voice in the heart. This is the Spirit voice that can’t be heard audibly but booms within the soul. Some skeptics might says it’s my own subconscious — myself talking to myself — but I’ve come to know this inner voice as coming from the One whom I can trust.
Oh Laura …
I felt the pain of your words in that prayer circle. Some Christians might tell us it’s natural to hear God’s voice, that it’s as easy as hearing the voice of a friend. But
Laura, at times, I have found it neither natural nor easy to hear His voice. And indeed, I have had times of hearing only this: Silence.
But even when He’s silent, this does not mean He’s absent. (Nor does it necessarily mean that you’re a poor listener!)
God will speak when He speaks. He is a wild and unpredictable and mysterious God who cannot be tamed by my attempts to box Him into four simple bullet points (above).
And this long-time agnostic-turned-believer has learned to trust Him in the silence. For a long time, I tried to accept or reject God on the basis of the tangible things. I wanted a God I could see with my flesh eyes. I demanded a God I could hear with my flesh ears.
But so much of our faith is based on this upside-down Kingdom of intangibles. We trust the things we cannot see or hear.
If there were no mystery — if there were only tangibles — what would be the point of Faith? How would we be any different than the rest of the world that demands proof in flesh, a world that rejects the idea of Faith in the unseen?
For in faith,
we know that He speaks,
even when we do not hear Him.
we know that He is,
even when we cannot see.
“Then Jesus told them …
Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
— John 20:29
Friends, would you offer your thoughts in the comment box on “hearing God” for my friend? I will be sharing our thoughts with “Laura*” this week.
(*I changed my friend’s name to protect her identity here. But I may as well have started the letter “Dear Jennifer” for I see myself so clearly in her questions, too.)
Even when we can’t hear Him, He hears us.