Recognizing His voice


A friend recently told me that she had never heard God’s voice. Her statement took me back. It seemed foreign to me. Over the years, I have learned to exercise my faith and recognize His voice. He talks to me every day. If He doesn’t, then I’m not listening for him or looking for him. Trusting God has become a way of life, but I have had to learn to walk by faith.
The freedom to hear from God has not always been that clear. I remember those days when I cried out to God and wondered if He heard my prayers. It seemed everyone had a corner on God — but me.
It wasn’t as if I didn’t try. I read the Bible, confessed my sins, prayed, but there was definitely a ceiling on my prayer life. If ever I felt like I had received something from God, it seemed I had holes in my bucket. Everything would drain out of the bottom.
I remember a time in the 1980s when I tried so hard to feel God’s presence. We had a wooden cross carved from an old tree stump in the meadow on our property. On that stump was a place to sit. I spent hours one afternoon, quietly sitting there talking to God. But I didn’t hear Him answer.
I told the Lord I wasn’t leaving that spot until I heard from him. I felt foolish as cars passed by and neighbors waved. I was sure they thought I was sitting there doing nothing. In truth, I was waiting to hear from God. I needed answers.
Then, something happened. I didn’t hear from God audibly like I had wanted. A breeze kicked up and the wind moved across the tall yellow grass. I studied those long blades of grass and felt like God was saying, “I’m in what you cannot see. Learn to see me there.”
That was strange to me at the time. I wanted something visual. I wanted to hear words or see a sign that followed along with what I expected. Contrary to that and, thankfully, He did show himself to me that day. I saw Him as the breeze bowed the tops of the tall grass. He was asking me to believe in Him. Somehow, I knew he was in the wind, something I couldn’t see or hear.
I said, “Yes, I will believe.” I didn’t understand totally, but that was the beginning for me in trusting God. I had to believe that his presence was there whether or not I “saw” or “heard” Him.
It was a matter of changing my perception about spiritual things. Previously, I would roll up my physical sleeves and work myself into a frenzy to be godly. I would eventually learn to stop “trying” and just surrender to Him. To let Him be who He knew He needed to be for me.
Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” All of those hours spent in that field that day, and all I needed to know was that one short sentence.
Final brushstroke: Even Samuel from the Old Testament failed to recognize God’s voice. In fact, he heard a voice, but thought it was someone else. Three times, no less. That’s when Eli told him something I wish I would have heard for myself all those years ago. “If the voice calls again, say, ‘Speak, God. I am your servant, ready to listen.’”
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