Summary: God’s voice is a voice that challenges and changes us.
In, The Horse Whisperer, Tom Booker, has a gift when it comes to what he calls "gentling" horses. In one telling scene, a traumatized horse, frightened by a ringing cell phone, gallops off into the far end of a large pasture. Booker walks into the pasture and sits down, where he waits for what appears to be hours. Drawn by curiosity the horse inches closer and closer finally allowing itself be touched by the "whisperer" who leads it back to the safety of its stall. Like that horse, there are a lot of people who need a gentle touch and voice. Life and people have handed them situations which have spooked them and caused them to run off seeking a “safe” place. Yet in reality the only “safety” can be found in God whose love is constant.
There is a desire in our world for God’s voice. Many have come to believe that the real answer to the questions facing our world is spiritual. And there are a lot of people and programs who claim to be able to put us in contact with this voice.
A few months ago “Cleo” would use her tarot cards to answer the spiritual questions you had. The “Celestine Prophesy” promises to have us see the aura’s of others and to join one another on a spiritual journey. What’s more it’s set forth in a loosely biblical basis. The Science Fiction channel’s “Crossing Over” is a show in which people make contact with their dead relatives through a medium. Tie such “popular” manifestations into the rest of the hodge-podge of reincarnation, new-age meditation, the use of herbs for “spiritual” insight, Gaia religion and other forms of witchcraft and sorcery and it’s no wonder our culture wants to say that no one way could possibly be the only way.
I think our world would be surprised to understand just how easy it is to “hear” God’s voice and how difficult it is to “listen” to God’s voice. If you don’t know it they aren’t the same. We hear a lot of things each day. Some of it impacts us at a level we’re not aware of. Other things we ignore. Some cause us to go beyond hearing to listening. Listening takes place when we pay attention too, focus on, take to heart and apply what we’re hearing to our lives. It is sad but too many of us “hear” God and too few “listen” to God. As Nancy Corbett quotes Eugenia Price as saying “The voice of God is always speaking to us, and always trying to get our attention. But His voice is a ‘still small voice,’ and we must at least slow down in order to listen.”
How does God speak to us? There are at least three ways this happens. He speaks to us in our everyday life. Life-situations, hassles circumstances, the movies and news casts all may well contain God’s voice. Likewise the chance conversation overheard in line at the store or the magazine or book we’re reading may contain God’s voice.
God still speaks in dreams and visions. He allows us to see what he is trying to say to us. We encounter a reality that quickens our souls and when we awake we know that what we’ve been dreaming has more to do with God than the spicy food we ate before bedtime.
God still speaks in an audible voice. I’m not talking about the self-talk of guilt, regret or pride nor am I talking about our conscious. I’m talking about a voice that often comes to us and confronts us about something that has to happen in our lives if we’re going to be Christ’s person.
It’s been my experience that God’s voice is a voice that challenges and changes us. Paul hears and listens to Jesus on the road to Damascus but the fact that Jesus speaks to Paul isn’t a testimony to Paul’s great spiritual astuteness or power. It’s a testimony to the hardness of Paul’s heart. He’d heard the gospel before and rejected it. He knew who Jesus was but considered it a non issue.
God’s audible voice comes to those who have come to a place where God has to do something earth shattering to get their attention. Dreams and vision may well include those insights we gain into our lives through what we’ve dreamt. But they also include the pictures that God gives us of the situation in our life and the world during times of prayer and meditation. In the common every-day living our life God is much more likely to speak to us. Those ah-ha moments when we know we’ve seen or heard something important are very often God given words to us.
But the problem isn’t with God’s speaking it’s with our listening. This month’s Charisma magazine has a very interesting article about a church which purposely listens to non-believers have to say about Jesus, the church etc. The author writes that for pastors to listen to the criticisms of these unchurched it difficult. He says, “Listening is hard work and we must resolve to stop talking and stop controlling.” Let me suggest that this is partly the problem when it comes to us being able to listen to God. We too often can’t keep quiet and what’s worse, we insist on controlling God.