Hearing God’s Voice

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

Have you ever heard God’s voice? What does He sound like to you? Is it distinct or do you sometimes worry that it is your own conscience or inner voice speaking to you that you mistake for God?

As a child, I imagined if I ever heard God’s voice, it would sound something like James Earl Jones (aka the voice of Darth Vader, minus the heavy mechanical breathing, of course)…you know, a deep, rich, resounding,  low baritone.  Or maybe even like Charlton Heston.

But as I got older, I can’t recall audibly hearing God’s voice.  Often I  “heard” God speak through other people…a pastor whose sermon either convicted me or gave me food for thought or a friend whose advice was not only Biblical but also very practical. Even more often, I would read a scripture verse that I felt was directly speaking to me or even go through a situation where God would close all doors except the one that He wanted for me to walk through. While all those are legitimate examples of how God can speak to us, I wanted more…I wanted to audibly hear God. I wanted to hear his voice like I would hear my own husband’s voice. I wanted to hear His voice like Joyce Meyers or pastors often describe distinctly hearing God’s voice.

It wasn’t until recently when a friend told me about a  Bible study she was going through that was helping her discern God’s voice. Curious, I asked her to tell me about it because I knew this was something she, too, had struggled with.  One of the practical exercises that she shared was directly asking God what He wanted her to do.  Okay, I thought to myself, that is something I’ve definitely prayed for. So I wasn’t too far off then.  But then she added, “But after you ask God that, don’t say anything else. Just be quiet and wait for Him to answer.”

Whoa! I stared dumbfounded at my friend as that simple statement hit me like a ton of bricks. Ask God a question and then wait for Him to answer?! It sounded like something we’d do with anyone else, but when it comes to God, how often do we really give Him the chance to speak?

If I had to reflect on my prayers, I would have to admit how one-sided they always are. While I’m a good listener with friends, when I pray, I have diarrhea of the mouth.  I pray for my family, my friends, myself, and whatever world events are on my heart. I give God my prayers and petitions list which often read out like a “honey do” list. God fix this…help me with that…please do this…  As quickly as I let God know what’s on my heart, I say a quick Amen and go about my business. I never wait to hear what’s on God’s heart. How ironic that I, who had wanted to hear God’s voice, had never given God the chance to speak! Perhaps, if I were even more honest with myself, I would have realized that while I wanted to hear Him, I didn’t believe I really could or that He would even speak to me in a way distinct, audible voice.

So let me challenge you as I challenge myself…starting this week, as you pray, ask God to speak to you. And then be quiet and listen…you never know how God will choose to answer!

 Jeremiah 29:13You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Ally O . . . I hardly know you, but I love you

Ally O, I hardly know you, but I love you.  And, yes, we all know, your mama loves you too.  She greets us every morning with a smile and the truth wrapped around her heart.  It is all mixed up with sweat, but that’s what we’re here for anyway.  Aren’t we?  It is the sweat of the flesh and the sweat of the spirit.  That’s what we are here for anyway.

Ally O, you know your mama better than me.  But I can’t help but tell you how she beams for her three.  And breaks for any one of you who is suffering.  Like a roller coaster ride, she cares for you from afar – – going through your ups and downs with you.  Her pure, pure heart watches you grow.  And on her knees she intercedes for you.  And, every now and then, she leaks patches of your walk to us.

I know, Ally O, that He stripped you of all the confidence you gained for the 18 years before you left for college.  He took away the many athletic and academic successes you collected over the years.  He looked you squarely in face and asked you to trust in Him.  Your mama grinned and bore your pain.

I know, Ally O, that, just a year later, He’s teaching you more.  Seems like He’s taking you apart again.  Looking you squarely in the face and asking you to trust Him.  We are promised certain things.  Sometimes we are sinking in the mire of a dungeon.  Some days we soar on wings like eagles.  Isaiah 40:31.  But, mostly, He invites us to experience His Sufficiency.  BinduAdai

You will find Him, not in the occasional cold looks of your team mates, but in the security He provides to you as His daughter.  You will find Him, not in your swooning, lovesick study buddy, but in the grace He gives you to manage your friend’s crush.  You will find Him because the only reason He put you where you are is to do just that.  To find Him in the deepest way you were made to find Him.

Ally O, you have a mother who would move mountains to rescue you from your pain.  But you also have a mother who rather coach you to climb your own mountains.  As you face your mountains, I leave you with the very wise words of my dear friend . . . And do not forget, Ally O, that I love you.

Let those difficult days be the days where God reveals His true power to you. Where you experience the “Peace that Passes All Understanding” despite your circumstances. Where you experience His Power over the most hardest of hearts. Where He opens up the impossible doors of your life like the Red Sea so you can walk through them. Those difficult, stormy days that you are hating and wishing would just pass may end up being the most defining days of your Christian walk. Because it is there, through the haze and fog of the storm, where you will see and experience the Presence of your Maker.

The First of Many . . . Devotions

By AbbyA

I have never surfed before.  But just once, my first boyfriend Gordon McKennon lifted me up belly side down onto his surf board.  I rode the wave leaning on my elbows into shore …. and I felt like I was flying on the water.

It was one of those early independence days.  I was probably about 13.  Dropped off at the beach by mama with the same three other girls and four boys I did everything with.  There were perfect blue skies, shiny reflective waters, warm sand.  Very big smiles.  Constant laughter.  Between talks about the depth of friendship and how it would never end.  Thirteen.

I take a snap shot of thirteen in my mind.  I think that is what God is asking of me.  Take a snap shot of riding a wave into shore where everything around you is perfect.  But everything around me is really not perfect.  There are days when insecurities rise up in me.  Days when I am speaking, teaching and directing and no one appears to be listening.  There are days when I haven’t had a good night sleep . . . for days.  Dull and dreary days.  Days that I fall short.  When I can’t reach.  When there is no ladder around to lift me up.  When stuff is upside down.  And I figure it’s not too hard for onlookers to tell.  Days like this . . . when riding a wave into shore is more likely a teary, wet question to God about how I am supposed to ride a wave under circumstances such as these?

God showed me poor Jeremiah who preached to the Israelites for forty years to no avail.  No one ever listened or took his advice.  No one believed that God would use Babylon to judge Israel’s sin.  Because of his message, Jeremiah spent days sinking in mud in dungeons.  His life was regularly threatened.  Even so, God kept pressing him on to speak.  Pressing him on until there was a day when, I think, his entire life’s ministry was affirmed.

Now Jeremiah remained in . . . prison until the day that Jerusalem was taken . . . And the captain of the [Babylonian] guard took Jeremiah and said to him: The Lord your God has pronounced this doom on this place.   Now the Lord has brought it, and has done just as He said . . . And now look, I free you this day from the chains that were on your hand . . . See, all the land is before you; wherever it seems good and convenient for you to go, go there.  Jeremiah  38: 28; 40:2-4.

Jeremiah’s prophecy came to pass and, on that same day, he was offered freedom.  No doubt Jeremiah experienced freedom in His relationship with the Living God, but his days were filled with bouts of insecurity, wisdom rejected by deaf ears, exhaustion and feelings of failure.  We get those difficult days, but we also get other picture perfect days.  Like Jeremiah’s day.  The day the person – – you thought was your enemy – – approaches you, tells you that your ministry has been in truth, takes off your chains and sets you free.  Picture perfect days.

Take a picture of your day.  Take a snap shot of riding a wave into shore where everything around you is perfect.  Despite everything, ride your wave.  See the perfection around you that only He can provide.  Ride your wave and know that your life shall be as a prize to you, because you have put your trust in Him.  Jeremiah 39:18.

Questions: Can you remember a picture perfect day in your life?  Have you ever felt like you were flying?  Have you ever felt like you were sinking in mud?  Do you believe that He will be with you always, even to the end – – until you ride into His shore where everything is perfect?  Challenge yourself to embrace both difficult and picture perfect days.

Verses: Jeremiah  38: 28; 40:2-4; Jeremiah 39:18; Matthew 28:20; James 1:2-4