recognizing his voice
Anybody remember what it was like to answer telephones before we had "caller ID" or saved contacts in our cell phones? When your phone would ring, you'd answer with anticipation. If one of your closest family members or best friends was on the other end, you'd recognize them by their voice before they even said their name. In the same way, you can easily zero in on one very familiar voice in a room full of people.
Lately, God has been reminding me of this concept. He wants more face time with us than just the 30 seconds before we eat dinner each day. He wants to know us personally, so much so, that when he speaks to us, we would recognize his voice like that of a best friend or a family member.
Sometimes it's easy for us to read the Bible and think that God spoke to people "back then" but that he doesn't work that way anymore. Miracles happened "back in Bible days" but not today, right? I was in that same boat of skeptics until I started hearing God's voice for myself and witnessed real miracles firsthand.
In Malachi 3:6, God says, "I am the LORD, and I do not change." Hebrews 13:6 says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." You see, the God we worship today is the exact same God of the Bible. He is STILL moving in the lives of people today. Jesus says in John 10:27-28, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand." I want to be one of those sheep.
I used to get caught up in long monologues of prayer, but was convicted when I realized how rude my one-sided conversations with Jesus were. Everybody has "that one guy" you sometimes avoid a conversation with because you know it will consist of HIM doing all the talking while you just sit there. Thankfully, God loves us much more than that—we'll never be annoying to God and he will never avoid us. (I love in Zephaniah 3:17 where it mentions that the Lord delights in us and that he rejoices over us with singing—so cool!)
I first heard God's voice in a big way in August of 2010: I felt confident that God was leading me away from my cushy, full-time corporate position and into the unpredictable freelance world. It was confirmed by others, too, but I knew something more had to give first... my own control. I didn't know much about the next chapter, so how could I possibly have known the best route to take? I absolutely needed God to guide me—the new chapter was HIS plan, not mine.
Since then I have tried to be very intentional about listening—really listening—to God. I've had to lean on him completely for provision and direction. "God, what do you want me to do today? Who do you need me to talk to? What is your vision for us?" I won't lie and tell you it has been easy….but I will tell you that it has gotten easier, the more I do it. Just like anything else, I need to practice. I need to become a tighter friend of the Lord so that I recognize his voice more easily.
I do that by diving into the Scriptures daily, humbling myself, praying, spending time with other Christians, journaling the things on my mind, reading up on what God is doing around the world in the global Church community, and by being silent before God to listen for his direction. Sometimes I sit at the kitchen table, imagining I'm with Jesus, sipping chai tea, hanging out and chatting together. Sometimes I kneel, imagining I am literally kneeling at the throne of God in Heaven, bowing before him. Other times I am so excited I feel the need to dance with the Holy Spirit or high-five him! There are also times I need to imagine that I can actually feel the warm embrace of the Lord's arms like a bear hug as I cry against his chest.
The Bible says that if we search for him with all our heart and soul, we will find him (Deut. 4:29) and if we call upon him, he WILL answer us (Psalm 91:15). You may not see a burning bush or a talking animal like some people before us have, but trust me—if you ask, God will be creative and speak to you like only HE can. You might get a sense of something, see a vision, receive a message from someone else, read a verse, have a dream, hear his voice in your heart or even audibly. Just be open to hearing from God in any way and be close enough to him that you'll recognize him communicating.
I write this post because in the last couple months, I have been overwhelmed with how often God has communicated to me and Chad. He's been brewing some really cool things in our lives lately that he's made very clear for us, simply because we have asked. It's crazy exciting! I can't even begin to explain the feeling beyond that….the fact that God—the creator of the universe—LOVES us and takes time to actually SPEAK to us individually just blows my mind. Seriously! Annnd, it's like an addictive drug—the more I hear from God, the more of him I want! Ha!
We'll definitely be filling you in on some of those exciting new things in the coming weeks. Until then, I just wanted to encourage you to listen. If you're wanting more detail on what "listening prayer" is, I highly recommend this book by Seth Barnes, The Art of Listening Prayer. Here's a sample of the first chapter.
Also, here is one of my current favorite songs: "Spirit Speaks" by All Sons & Daughters
You can listen here on Spotify.