Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Hearing God's voice

Over the years, I've struggled with the issue of how God leads and directs us, apart from the Bible. In the various and sundry churches and Christian groups I've been involved in, there have been a wide range in beliefs. Some have taught that God does not speak to us today apart from Scripture while, at the other end of the spectrum, others have taught the importance of "seeking a fresh word" through "words of knowledge" and prophecies.

There are a very few instances in my life where I believe that God communicated to me, very directly and specifically. None of them were in response to my "seeking a word"; nor was I even in prayer at the time.

At the same time, I know people who claim that God speaks to them all the time. "God told me..." and "God showed me..." peppers their speech. Sometimes they even offer verbatim quotes. Forgive me, but all too often I find myself thinking, "Does God really talk like that?" If God spoke to me, would He adopt my odd speech patterns, overused phrases and pet sayings?

There have been many times in my life when I have felt left out. God does not speak to me in audible voices or in visions (well, there is a childhood dream that I believe God sent me...). He has never sent me messages emblazoned across people's foreheads. He has not sent me cryptic messages in knitting yarn. (I know someone who claimed this happened to her more than once.) I have never prophesied or spoken in tongues. There have been numerous occasions when all this has gone on around me and I have been the only one seemingly untouched, the only one unspoken to, the only one still silent.

At the same time, I believe strongly that God has directed my path, just as He promised in Proverbs 3:5,6. It is almost always in hindsight that I am able to recognize His direction, and see how He ordered my steps. While I walk, I all too often feel as if I am stumbling, blind and lost, or merely putting one foot in front of the other because it seemed the best or only thing to do.

God seems mostly silent. If I hear anything from Him most days, it is a reminder that He has already spoken. Why am I so eager for "fresh words" when I am not reading enough of the many words He has already given?

A few months ago, I was at a funeral service for a beloved wife and mother who had died, all too young, of cancer. One of her closest friends shared a vision God gave her of Cherie dancing joyously in Paradise. Her husband later told me that God gave him a similar vision.

No matter what you may think of such visions, no matter how skeptical you might be, try to understand why I have been driven to ask God for the tiniest glimpse of Sam.

Is it my lack of faith that prevents God from answering my prayer?

Part of me hopes that the "Experiencing God" series will answer all these questions for once and for all, and that I will become one of the privileged who hear and recognize God's voice, one of those to whom God speaks.

At the same time, I am skeptical.

When I move beyond the emotional ♠ the desperate pleading for a voice, a sign, anything ♠ then my mind is comforted by posts like this one at Reasons Why. I am unwilling to risk misusing or misinterpreting Scripture in an attempt to convince myself that God should be sending me "fresh words", visions, and dreams.

Besides, there is enough of Scripture to keep me busy hearing and doing for the rest of my life.


  1. This is a beautiful post, Rebecca.

    I feel pretty much the same as you do. I can't say I heard God call me to Himself when I was a young person, but looking back now, I see how He led me all the way. Sometimes, we can only see where He was after the fact.

  2. I don't hear voices, but I am often struck by how often a sermon, psalm, prayer, or a reading from God's Word seems particularly directed to me. God's Word is living and active, and I think we often forget that.

  3. Rebecca,

    I stumbled across this after re-reading Brian's post this morning. I have to say that I agree with so much of what you say here. Especially this:

    "God seems mostly silent. If I hear anything from Him most days, it is a reminder that He has already spoken. Why am I so eager for "fresh words" when I am not reading enough of the many words He has already given?"

    Thanks for putting into words something that has been troubling me lately. Hearing God is not a simple thing, is it? :)

    God bless,
    Jennifer (Brian's wife)