I hear voices in my head. I hear my own voice sometimes affirming me, sometimes chastising me, sometimes encouraging me, sometimes just talking about whatever I am doing.
I hear the voice of the enemy. His voice discourages, intimidates, deflates, shames, blames and squelches me. I am getting better at identifying it for what it is — lies!
There is a third voice I hear. It is quieter and filled with inspiration. This voice invites me to intimacy and regularly encourages me to step out of the box and try something new.
11“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. 13When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.1 Kings 19:11-13
Jesus’ voice is often soft and gentle, accompanied with a smile. He laughs easily and is delighted in me. His words carry promise and delight, hope and joy, affirmation and acceptance.
Some say Jesus doesn’t talk to them. I wonder if it’s because we listen for loud proclamations or hurried words spoken harshly that tell us what we’ve done wrong. We aren’t listening for quiet whispers of love and invitation.
When my children were babies I attuned to baby sounds. I heard the slightest movement of their tiny bodies in the bed or the soft sound of the very first cry in the night. I knew their voices and I listened for them. I didn’t have to focus on it or remind myself to listen. It became second nature. I learned the sound and then I heard them.
Perhaps a little practice hearing God’s voice is needed. He speaks to us in many ways: music, scripture, nature, books, phrases in our minds, prayer, words of others. If I’m not sure something is God’s voice or something else – like my own desires or the taunts of the enemy – I test it. First, I consider my own visceral response to what I heard. If it is accompanied with shame, blame and intimidation, I identify it as not from God. If it brings warmth, acceptance, affirmation and inspiration, I identify it as from God. If that is not enough, I examine what I heard in light of scripture: does what I heard line up with God’s revealed word to us?
Years ago I sat with a young woman as she struggled knowing if God loved her. I tried a simple exercise and suggested she ask Jesus this question, “How have you loved me today?” She had a response almost immediately which she didn’t want to share with me. It was personal and, I think, she had a hard time accepting what Jesus said to her. You see, it wasn’t what she would say to herself; it was an affirmation of being chosen, loved and valued. It lined up with scripture even if she didn’t want to accept it as true.
Take time today to notice Jesus around you. It might be in the sparkle of the sunshine, a song on the radio at just the right time or the loving words of a child. Practice listening for his voice, sensing his presence and see his face smiling on you. Let me tell you friend, he is crazy about you!
This might just be the best news you’ve had today!