If we ignore God’s voice, we might lose our ability to hear Him. That’s a dark, frightening, and dangerous place to be, which is why Jesus said, in essence, “Be careful how you hear.”
And while, in context, He was speaking of those who would ultimately accept or reject His truth, this principle applies to all of us: We can’t selectively listen and expect a close relationship with Christ.
I’ve experienced the soul-reaching ache, almost numbness, that comes from consistently telling God no. From downplaying, discounting, and outright ignoring His nudges. He was persistent for about a year, speaking to me in numerous ways—through Scripture, statements made by others, a prick in my heart when certain song lyrics played. But my fears and insecurities screamed louder. I was so focused on all I thought I might lose, I couldn’t fathom all, through obedience, I might gain.
And so, for a time, I robbed myself of the greatest gift Christ died to give me—intimacy with Him. During that time, I continued to carry out all the appropriate religious acts. I read my Bible each morning. Went to church every Sunday. Prayed before meals and taught our daughter the truths of Scripture.
Externally, I presented like a woman of strong faith, but internally, my soul withered.
With longing, I reflected on moments when God had felt specifically close and His voice had resonated particularly clearly, and I became alarmed. But I never made the connection between the emptiness I felt and my disobedience nearly a year prior.
Soon, this spiritual starvation filled me with desperation. I needed to feel God’s presence. I began crying out for His nearness, for the soul-deep connection we’d once shared.
But God remained silent. Prayer after prayer, Bible passage after Bible passage, I heard nothing.
Until one afternoon, in the middle of a run, I mentally yelled, “God, what do You want me to do? Whatever it is, just tell me, and I’ll do it.”
His swift yet clear whisper in the depths of my soul arrested my thoughts: “I already told you.” He didn’t need to say more, for I knew. With the clarity that can only come from the Holy Spirit, I knew. In my disobedience—that I had convinced myself wasn’t truly disobedience—I’d driven God away. While I’d remained His child, firmly in His eternal grip, in steadily ignoring my Savior’s promptings, my ears had nearly become too dull to hear.
In that moment, I had a choice to make, one I could no longer put off or justify away. Would I “pay attention to what [I heard]” (Mark 4:24, NLT)?
That was a defining, line-in-the-sand moment for me, one that dramatically changed my life.
Sadly, I’ve seen others turn the other way. One person in particular comes to mind. I’ve personally witnessed numerous miraculous ways God has spoken to her, drawn her, and invited her to experience His abundant life. I’ve even seen her take tentative steps in that direction, until her land-in-the-sand moment came, that instance where she had to decide whose will she would follow, hers or God’s. Unfortunately, she chose her dreams over those God had hand-crafted for her, with heartbreaking results: isolation. Numerous relationships lost. Increased emotional and spiritual darkness.
The inability to hear God.
I pray one morning God will awaken her soul, as He did with mine, so that she will begin to take heed of what she hears so that she can experience the filled-to-overflowing life Christ promised.
That’s His invitation to us all. Where are you in your listening journey? Are you tempted to silence God’s voice in a particular area? And most importantly, is whatever is hindering your obedience worth forfeiting intimacy with Christ?
For those following the chronological reading plan through the New Testament …