Not long ago, I talked to a man who worked a number of years as a pastor before God called him to another ministry.
“What sermon subjects were important to you?” I asked him.
The two subjects he gave me were, “Hearing God” and “Discipleship.”
Both are near and dear to my heart, but since learning to hear God’s voice changed my life so dramatically, I wanted to learn more about what he had to say.
This week’s guest blog, “Hearing God” comes from that pastor. At the end I have added a link to one of my favorite “God’s Voice” songs.
Over the many years of my journey in Christ and ministry, I have often had opportunity to share my testimony. Like many of you, my testimony begins with the first time I “heard” Father God’s voice and knew he was talking to me.
(I have qualified the word ‘heard’, because I didn’t actually hear a voice. In fact, I didn’t hear anything. Rather, I saw. God gave me a life-changing vision of myself on that first occasion. I have since learned that God often “speaks” by vision as well as by words. But that is a topic for a different occasion.)
This message from God was life-changing because of what it told me about myself and about how God feels about me. It rocked me and forever changed the direction of my life. I shall never forget it.
There is a school of thought in Christianity that contends God no longer speaks to his people. There is no need for Him to speak, they contend, because He has already said everything he has to say in the canon of Scripture. Aside from the obvious fact that this is counter to the experience of a vast number of Christians all through history, it postulates a very strange kind of love relationship indeed. Remember, Father God is love. Not just ‘loving’; He is love! (1 John 4:8) That is his nature, his essence.
Writing to the disciples in Rome, the apostle Paul wrote, “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us…” (Romans 5:5) What a strange kind of love that would be if the only way it is expressed is in a book. Imagine for a moment a marriage in which one of the partners, though present, never speaks but instead simply points their mate to the love letters written before they were married because in those letters everything that ever needs to be said was already said. I think we would all agree that such a marriage has dim future prospects for survival.
Thankfully, that is not the kind of love relationship that Father God has made available to us by the blood of his Son. Jesus said of his relationship to us, his lambs, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me…they too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” (John 10:14, 16) Surely Jesus is saying that He will talk to us and that we will recognize that it is his voice.
But notice what it is that he will say: “You are mine. I want you to know me.” What an amazing and comforting invitation! And this is exactly what I hear most often as I begin my day each morning with the words, “Father, what do you want to say to me?” Almost invariably the Lord replies with assurance of his love. Here are a few daily entries from my journal.
“I love you, son. Go with me. Walk with me today. Walk in peace with me today.”
“I love you. I want to speak to you today.”
“I love you. I see that you are working at righteousness. Let me do it. Let me clothe you with my righteousness, my power and my joy.”
“I love you. People are going to hurt you. You have to just let it go. I never will. I will never abandon you. I will always be there with you and for you.”
I could continue many times over, but I’m sure you see the pattern. Love must find expression. Father never tires of telling me he loves me. That is the message that changed my life initially, and that is the message from him that assures me daily. He never tires of telling me that he loves me, the real me. That’s good, because I need to hear those precious words often. His words of love to me heal my insecurity and anchor my soul.
How about you? Have you heard his voice lately? Have you taken time to listen? Try this little exercise:
- Find a quiet place and time
- Fix your attention on Jesus. Picture him talking to the disciples, with you sitting among them. (It’s ok to use your imagination. God gave it to you so that you can see the invisible.)
- Ask him a question that’s on your heart. If you don’t have one, begin by simply asking him what he wants to tell you.
- Tune to words and pictures that come to your mind. God speaks through spontaneous thoughts.
- Write down what you get that you think is from the Lord. Writing it helps you remember and reflect upon what you heard and saw. And then you can check later to see if it lines up with The Book.
The shepherd is calling us, inviting us to know him. Let’s run to him.
“Ever So Gently” by Brian Doerksen and Cindy Rethmeier.