We live in a society of noise. Right now, it is mid evening and I am alone in the house. Yet it is noisy here. I can hear the music playing in the living room. I can hear my upstairs neighbors walking… walking… walking (God bless older home with squeaky floors!) I can hear the whirring sound of my computer. I can hear kids running outside. I can hear cars coming and going. And to top it all off, someone overcooked their dinner and set off the fire alarms! Everybody outside till the firemen come! Chatter, Chatter, Chatter. All kinds of noises.
All that, and its evening here. What about during the day. How much noise is there that goes on in our lives every day? And not just the noise of our life, the noise that we have no choice but to hear. Think about it and make a list the different sounds that you hear before you make it to work in the morning, or that you hear during a simple one hour lunch break… the noise is never ending, and it is deafening.
Even with all of that, there are some noises that we just know, sounds that we can hear over the din of our daily life. There is the sound of “mommy” coming from your child among all of the other children at the playground. Then there is cry in the middle of the night that can wake you from a solid slumber.
So often we cry out… Lord, talk to me. I don’t know what to do here. Help me, tell me what to do. Sometimes we feel so all alone because we feel like we don’t hear from Him. That just maybe He has finally given up talking to us. I know I’ve felt that way many times before.
The thought that comes to mind… WWJD… or better yet… WDJD (What did Jesus do?)
“But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray”
“After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone.” Matthew 14:23 ”Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Mark 1:35
”One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.” Luke 6:12
Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible describes these verses like this, “And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, into a desert place, that he might have rest from the fatigues of preaching and healing diseases; and being alone, and free from company, might have an opportunity for private prayer to God.”
If Jesus found it necessary to escape the trappings of His day to slip into the wilderness in order to find alone time to reconnect with His Father… shouldn’t we be doing the same? Oh how I wish I could say that I have a committed, regular and active prayer life. Oh how I wish I could.
Do we take the time to withdraw, to find a place to be quiet, to commune with the Creator of the Universe? Do we find a place and shut out the din of life?
What are we listening for? The loud booming voice of God reverberating in every fiber of our being… shaking the ground around us… Or are we tuned to hear that still small voice… the gentle whisper of God.
“Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”
1 Kings 19 11-12
And if we do get ourselves able to shut down the noise, escape to that quiet place… how do we recognize the voice of God?
If we are to recognize the voice of God we must belong to Him. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27)
We hear His voice when we spend time in Bible study and quiet meditation of His Word.
When we intentionally spend intimate time in His Presence and in His Word, it becomes easier to recognize His voice and understand His leading in our lives.
Does this mean that we will “hear” Him? I think that sometimes yes and sometimes no. I know in my own life, there are times that I did hear His voice. There have been times that things around me were so out of control, so over the top, so loud, my brain going so fast, unable to decipher up from down and right from wrong… those are times when it seems that I have heard the voice of God. Not out loud, but in my inside hearing. And then there are the times that I heard Him in what I call… I know in my knowin’. There are times that you just know. The time when everything inside of you knows. Your spirit is settled. There is nothing ill at ease causing you to question if what you heard is the right. You just know in your knowin’.
Those are the times that I long for. The times that I just know that where I am, and what I’m doing is right. That I am doing what He has called me to do.
To me, it is less about how God speaks to me – whether out loud or in my knowin’. What is more important is what I do with what He says. I believe that God speaks most clearly to me through His Word. The more I study it, learn it, memorize it, devour it, apply it, the more readily I will be able to recognize His voice when He does speak.
Certainly there are other ways that God uses to “speak” to us. Sometimes, it’s through a Word of Knowledge from another person. Perhaps it’s the sermon that the Pastor chose to teach on Sunday. Perhaps it’s something that you heard from a television preacher. And sometimes it’s a most innocuous object that you would never expect. HUH? I’ll close with this short story.
Sometime last year, things at Michael’s company were not going good. It was all just too crazy. There were layoffs that no one saw coming, on top of an unmanageable workload with unreasonable deadlines. Everything seemed to be spinning out of control. Now being the supportive wife, I certainly want to be that sounding board for him. I want him to be able to come home and vent… let it out in a safe place. But the crazy was all getting to be way too much. There was a spirit of heaviness over our home. I know that it was all the stress and bad feelings that he was bringing home each night.
Now, first of all… Michael works second shift that bring him home just before midnight. Second, we live in a not too huge city, so there isn’t any traffic at the time that he travels to come home. On one particular evening, Michael was about 5 minutes from home when he was passing by the local fire station. It was probably 11:45PM. All was quiet, and there were no other cars on the street. As he was approaching the fire station, the traffic light that is used only when the fire department is dispatched turned RED. So of course, thinking that he would see the fire house light up and the trucks load up and head out, Michael stopped for the light.
The light turned red… and there was not a peep from the fire house. Not a single light came on, no movement at all. So there he sat, the only car on the road… stopped for the light. It stayed red for over a minute then turned green and he started to drive away. The only thing he heard in his spirit…. STOP. In all of the crazy that had been swirling around Michael at work, and then carrying that home, God let him know to STOP.
I can report that life at his work is still crazy. The blessing is that even in this economy, work is plentiful, and over time abounds. God used an innocuous red light in the middle of the night on a back road to teach him to STOP.
He is everywhere we go, in everything we do.
Stop and listen.
Stop and watch.
Stop and hear.