1 Samuel 3: 10
The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
Every day, K-Love, a national Christian radio station that broadcasts contemporary Christian music, posts a question for all viewers and listeners on its Facebook page. Normally I scroll past this because it’s usually not relevant to my day’s challenges. The October 6th question, however, caught my full attention.
What’s the biggest barrier in hearing God’s voice?
It was late morning, and the question had been posted only a couple of hours. The responses mirrored my own failures. One individual responded that disobedience was her primary issue. The more you disobey, she wrote, the quieter He becomes. Forty- five likes. Another response was distractions and lack of discipline. Forty- eight likes. Yep. Could have written that myself. Yet another response was failure to take the time to be still and listen. The world is shouting. He speaks in whispers. Forty-one likes. There were several other much lengthier responses without as many “likes,” that made equally valid points, including busyness, pride, and overwhelm. I divided the responses into categories of three D’s.
Disobedience, Distractions, Discipline.
Yeah. All that. Wow. What a relief to learn that I’m not alone in this struggle. But the Holy Spirit was turning every cell in my body toward a change. I knew I needed to take a deep breath and ponder what I can do differently to tune in to the voice of God. Perhaps this is because I have been fervently praying for wisdom and guidance in a lot of areas of my life and my husband’s life. We are both in a phase of preparation, transition, and uncertainty. But God has been faithful to us in the past, so I know He will be faithful this time as well.
A lot of our distractions to hearing God’s voice that we deal with today are no different than they were when Jesus walked among us. It’s a matter of recognizing them and shutting them out. Take John the Baptist, for example, from the Gospel of Matthew 3. “He lived an unusual life of self-denial. He preached to a self-indulgent people so dulled by luxurious ease that they no longer heard the voice of God. There is little that impresses – or convicts – the self-indulgent as much as self-denial,” (mybsf.org Matthew lesson 3). Aren’t we Americans just as self-indulgent and prideful as the chief priests and the religious order of that day?
We also live in the lap of luxury. Few of us worry about where our next meal is coming from. Some of us upgrade our vehicles annually just have the latest model with the most advanced technology. We want more expensive houses, and the latest in technological gigots and gadgets. We immediately consume the newest film releases and listen to latest podcasts so we don’t miss out. I’m not saying any of these endeavors are wrong, but at what point do they become distractions?
“The world is rigged to pull your attention away from Me (God). Excessive noise and visual stimulation make it hard for you to find Me in the midst of your moments . . . when you shut out distractions to focus only on Me, I awaken your soul to the Joy of My Presence!” says Sarah Young in Jesus Always.
Mark Batterson has a lot to say on this topic. I had no idea that he covered this in his book until I accidently stumbled across an interview he did with Matt and Laurie Crouch on TBN (Trinity Broadcast Network) where they were discussing his latest book called “Whisper: How to hear the seven voices of God.” Batterson pastors National Community Church in the Washington D.C. area. “We have to battle the voices of our culture, voices of condemnation, negativity and our internal monologue. God can’t get a word in edgewise. We have to be willing to submit our attention to the Holy Spirit,” Batterson said. “Learning to hear the voice of God is like learning a second language.” This metaphor spoke directly to my heart, having just taught some ESL students a few hours earlier that evening.
How do I hear God’s voice? Not as an audible sound, but as a thought or idea that I can’t shake. My mind can become a chaotic whirlwind to-do lists, but God’s voice always rises above my scattered internal monologue. Not in volume but in persistence. God is too polite to shout or scream (although we may wish he would). He prefers gentle nudging’s, or whispers. That’s how he draws us closer. He is faithful in giving me blogging ideas, even when I don’t pray as fervently as I intend to about my topics. God’s voice always leads me to the exact teachings that I need, when I need them, and inspires me to share with others. From a radio station’s question, to my Bible Study Fellowship lesson, my Jesus Always, and a random interview I happen to catch while randomly scrolling on our TBN app, I am overwhelmed by His goodness. Go God!
Hearing the voice of God is about paying attention. Sometimes I need to sit in silence. Sometimes I need to humble myself to receive correction. Sometimes I need to be outdoors in creation to praise Him. All of the time, I need God’s word, and when I soak it in, the clearer His voice becomes. It’s always a struggle to let go of the distractions that hinder me from hearing His voice. But it’s always worth it. Hearing the voice of God, I knew I needed to purchase Mark Batterson’s book, even though I thought I could get away with just mentioning it. The Holy Spirit was nudging me to buy it and skim a few chapters before publishing this post, and now I cannot recommend it enough.
What was that? What did you say? I still can’t hear you.
Come over here, my child, you’re too far away