Hearing the Voice of God
The lake outside my window has many faces. Today the cumulus clouds, blue-gray skies and trees robed in variegated shades of green are sketched upon the surface of the tranquil lake. The God who has taken His brush and painted this beautiful picture, is the same God who hears and who sees – the God who speaks to His children. He is from everlasting to everlasting.
In certain church circles it isn’t uncommon to hear people say, “God told me….” I’m not sure that I ever heard anyone tell me how they recognized His Voice. When questioned about how they know, they usually give a vague answer as though everyone is supposed to automatically know how to distinguish the Voice of the Good Shepherd from the other voices out there in the atmosphere.
In John 10 Jesus said that His sheep know His voice – they will not follow the voice of a stranger. Yet, I have seen Christians heed the voice of the stranger and become angry when questioned about decisions that have no scriptural basis.
God Speaks to His People
God does speak to His people. There was a time in history when God asked Moses to assemble the Hebrew children because He wanted to speak to them – from His mouth to their ears. They congregated and waited for Him to speak; when He did they stepped away from the sound; they were afraid. The people asked Moses to be their spokesman, to hear from God for them. God wanted them to come into His presence, to know Him that they might not sin against Him. (Exodus 20)
In the days ahead we need more than ever to be able to know His voice. I believe that we can teach guidelines for learning to hear and distinguish the Voice of God. In fact, there is a steadfast rule that I learned: God and His Word are One! He will never tell you anything contradictory to His Word.
We can learn from one another. The following is an account of the first time I determined that I wouldn’t leave my quiet time with the Lord until I heard His voice. It wasn’t that I had never heard God speak to me; in my youth while praying with my parents He spoke so distinctly that I thought one of them had spoken. When I discovered neither my dad nor my mother had said anything to me, I knew it could only be one other Voice, but I was disappointed that He disagreed with my plans. That’s another experience for another day. The following account took place many years later.
Learning to Hear
It is a beautiful day – a day of azure-blue sky, soft clouds and gentle winds blowing through the fresh green leaves outside my prayer room. Placing my cup of tea on the skirted round table I sit down to talk with God. With my Bible, pen and paper ready I make a holy declaration to God: Today I will not leave this room until I hear from You.
This many-faceted God that we call Father has a grand unrestrained sense of humor. He rejoices over us with singing! He would like for His children to lighten up – just a little – to experience His joyous presence! Sitting in my office dressed in my robes of righteousness telling Him my plan, I close my eyes and wait. Surely, He will say: this is my daughter in whom I am well pleased or He will unfold the plan that will thrust me into the world of television. Surrounded by quietness I hear His laughter-filled voice say, “Remember to buy the bread!”
My eyes fly open; I reach for pen and paper writing down each word. Then I begin to laugh!
A practical word from my Father-God? Here I am seriously practicing Psalm 27: One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple. Here He is lovingly and joyously telling me something in words that lightly caress the air around me. But….
It’s interesting how other thoughts (voices) come immediately to steal His Word. Why was He interfering with my plans? Going to the store was not on my to-do list. I thought He would be pleased that I had started my day with Him! Where is the deep spiritual message I expected? Was that really Him talking to me? Did He really say…?
Turning a deaf ear to these questions I begin to realize the purpose of this Word from my Father. He is here to bring transformation without condemnation; He is ministering salvation to my soul. Unafraid, here in His loving presence I acknowledge my sin of procrastination – a passive escape from responsibility. This was a source of contention between my husband and me; he didn’t understand it and neither did I at the time. (Another teaching God’s mercies are new every morning. He is truly concerned about everything that concerns us.
For a long time I had been declaring that God’s peace permeates every nook and cranny of our home. God knew and I knew that an empty cupboard could disturb the peace quickly in the midst of a calm day. A lack of bread at home produced quarrels and stupid arguments. Blaming and control issues cropped up with no resolution. That day the Father prepared me to quit blaming others and take responsibility for my own behavior. As a follower of Jesus I am to look well to the affairs of my household, but certain mind-sets have to be changed.
Isn’t it interesting that we declare and decree the blessings of God not realizing the very words we are speaking require us to change. (We are so eager for Him to change members of our households.) It was time to take the “bull by the horns,” arise Germaine arise, make a grocery list, go to the store and look forward to an evening of peace. Thank You Father: Jesus is my Peace!
…pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.
Chapter II: My Thoughts or God’s Voice
Copyright © Germaine Copeland 2009