Last Saturday we talked about spiritual vision. (You can read the post here.) Today, I’m talking about our hearing. Last Sunday, after talking about listening to and obeying God, one of my third graders scrunched her face and raised her hand. “Besides reading the Bible, how do we hear God?”
That’s a tough question, isn’t it, with a rather vague answer. And yet, in many ways, the answer is easy.
We learn to discern God’s voice. We learn to differentiate His voice–His will–from ours. The more we draw closer to Him through Bible study, prayer, and worship, the more attune we become to His voice. But I believe the converse is also true. The more we pull away, the harder it becomes to hear Him. Because our voice begins to scream louder, until it drowns out all else.
Have you ever had a conversation with someone who’s easily distracted? Who pretends to listen while obviously thinking about everything OTHER than your conversation? What do you do?
You quit talking.
Because it serves no point.
Often, when praying, I act as if I’ve got a stop-watch in my hand. “Lord, please show me what to do about X. Please give me wisdom in how to handle Y. Please … please … please … Okay, go!”
If I’m not careful, I’ll transfer my impatience to others.
A while back, I had to make some tough decisions. Numerous opportunities came way, and I wanted to move forward with God’s wisdom. After a period of prayer and getting divine silence, I sought counsel. I was told to “make a decision and stick with it,” because, as this person put it, God wasn’t concerned with all these minor details as long as I sought to honor Him.
I disagreed, largely based on Isaiah 35:21 which says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'”
So, I thanked the individual for his time and decided to let the decision go–until God showed me what to do. And He did, a week later. You see, my answer came not when I asked the question, but instead, later, when I drew near and spent time in God’s presence.
In other words, in His timing and in His way, with clarity and peace.
You see, God doesn’t work according to our schedule, and sometimes He remains silent–for a time. But that doesn’t mean He won’t answer. These moments of delay can be hard, frightening, frustrating.
But God says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
It takes trust and faith to practice the patience we need to hear–a trust that says “God won’t let me down. Won’t be too late.”
And yet, I suspect most of us hear God more than we’d care to admit. Often, we know what God wants us to do, but we make excuses for our disobedience. The problem is, the more we ignore God’s voice, the more we disobey, the harder it is to hear Him.
Notice what Jesus said about the masses in Matthew 13:15-16 “For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.”
This verse appears to imply that dull hearts lead to spiritual deafness. And notice, it says they closed their eyes, which appears to speak of a deliberate choice.
We can’t have His guidance without surrendering to His authority. It doesn’t work that way. Obedience equals intimacy which equals better hearing which gives rise to obedience which leads to deeper intimacy which …. 🙂
Are you waiting for God’s guidance today?
Or maybe He’s telling you something you’re rather not hear. It can be so tempting to make excuses for our disobedience, thinking it’s really not a big deal if we serve in that ministry or spend time with that friend, or say that kind word to our spouse, but I believe much more is at stake–our very hearing!
Lord, help us drawn near to You, stay near to You, listening attentively to Your voice. And when You guide, Lord, as You will, may we obey with unwavering, instant obedience.
I’d love to hear from you! How do you hear God? Has this been a learning experience for you? How might disobedience hinder our spiritual hearing? When our ears have become dull, what can we do to tune them back to Christ?
Let’s talk about this!
Join us at Living by Grace as we talk about ways to enhance our spiritual vision. 🙂 Then come back Monday as I launch my “Reach Out to Live Out” campaign. Each Monday, I’ll share stories, photos, or videos of people, just like you, heeding God’s voice as they reach out to others. My goal is to make acts of love contagious and to spur our imagination, showing us varied ways we can demonstrate Christ’s love to others. On the last Monday of each month, I’ll provide a brief recap, inviting you to vote for your favorite “Reach Out” story. The winning contributor will receive a gift basket with goodies donated by my writer friends. One lucky reader, chosen from blog subscribers and comments, will receive a free book. (Click here and scroll down to find out more about the campaign and how you can get involved.)
Want to learn more about how to recognize God’s voice? Here are some additional resources:
How Can We Recognize the Voice of God found on one of my favorite sites, Got Questions.
Hearing God’s Voice by Henry Blackaby and Richard Black
I’d love to dive into Henry Blackaby’s book with you. Let me know if you’d like to join me and I’ll set aside a day on my blog along with a FB page where we can chat.
Thanks, Jennifer. I needed that encouragement this morning.
Me, too, Laura! We are in the “divine silence” stage as we are looking for a house. (We are moving, and our home in KC is already rented, but we’re not sure whether to buy or rent where we’re moving.) My first reaction is fear, my second is to jump ahead without waiting for God’s guidance, but I’m choosing instead (white-knucking choice, perhaps) to trust in God’s timing, and in His promise in Isaiah. 🙂
Have a blessed day, my friend!
Super reminders, Jen. Listening for Him – and hearing Him – AND doing what He says makes such a huge difference. Praying I listen carefully today, and DO.
Thank, Jo! I’m praying the same!
Hearing from God is exciting. To think the Creator of the universe stoops to communicate with us, frail and fickle as we are. Fifteen years ago, my husband and I had grown apart. I never thought of divorce but I frequently rehearsed the phrase, “I don’t need him.” I’d often take long walks just to get out of the house and away from him. During one of those walks, I was rehearsing my favorite phrase when I heard God say, “I don’t NEED you either, but I CHOOSE to love you.” It hit me between the eyes and was the turning point in my attitude. It took a couple years to work through our issues but the idea of choosing to love my husband saved our marriage. God is so good–his voice held no condemnation toward me but got the point across by speaking of his love for me.
Wow, Jennifer, this came at just the right time. Both hubby and I are struggling with hearing God, right now. Praise God, He knows just what we need, and when we need it!
Wow, Jennifer, this comes at just the right time. Both hubby and I are struggling with hearing from God, at this time. Praise God, He knows just what we need, and when we need it!
Thank, debpiccurelli! I pray God surrounds you in His love and makes His voice clear to you in His way and His time. I also pray that you and your husband unite as you seek to hear from God. Isn’t it awesome to have praying spouses? I also pray that you have peace while you wait, and confidence when you move forward, in however God directs. Blessings!
I hear God’s voice: when i read the Bible or when I pray.
Thanks for sharing, Dicky! The Bible is the absolute best way to hear and discern God’s voice. 🙂