Listen to God’s voice. Do you ever find yourself in a crowd of people trying to have a conversation with someone? Depending on the type of crowd, sometimes it’s hard to hear through the noise.
Probably the loudest, biggest type of crowds I’ve been in are at hockey games. This past Spring Break, my son Matt and I were able to get away to an Oilers game – before you stop reading, know that I’m not an Oilers fan….but when in Rome…(or Edmonton).
There were close to 20,000 fans shoe-horned into the seats with another few thousand standing around the concourses. People were talking, shouting, cheering, drinking, and yes, some were even there to watch hockey, and there the 2 of us were, in the “nose-bleeds” of the arena.
Trying to have a conversation over the next few hours was pretty challenging to say the least. Navigating the crowds as we were late, explaining and instructing Matt about finding our seats, talking about aspects of the game, with the drunk hecklers behind us, loud music, and it all was one noisy event.
How did I hear through the noise? Well, in situations like that, you get closer together, try to read lips, gestures, make eye contact, and repeat instructions as needed. How do we hear the voice of God? Many of the same ways – find ways to cut through and eliminate the noise.
Samuel was sent to live at the temple as a young boy, being raised by the elderly Eli the priest. Scripture tells us that “in those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.” (1 Sam 3:1) Sometimes it could feel like that today. It took 3 times for the voice of the Lord speaking to Samuel, along with some guidance and intentionality, before he was ready with the response of “Speak. I’m your servant, ready to listen!” (1 Sam 3:10 MSG)
As Jesus followers, we long to hear God’s voice more clearly. God started speaking to Samuel when he was a child. Last week, I wrote of following God by walking out our faith, taking risks, and doing so with a sense of curiosity and wonder. Samuel didn’t have the usual distractions as life has. Maybe we would hear God better if our head wasn’t so cluttered with so many things. God wants a relationship with each and every person; because He loves each and every person. But relationships don’t grow when there is little to no communication, no time spent together, no willingness to learn or open up to one another. Jesus would often get away for solitude, for prayer, for focus, and for communion with the Father - He could do nothing apart from the will of God, “…The Son can do nothing by himself; he can only see what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. (John 5:20) Sometimes, we need to cut through the noise, through the other voices and the distractions in our lives and focus on what God is saying.
Jesus says that, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27) Every single believer can know the voice of God, it’s just whether or not they actually attribute it to God. It can be tough to risk and step out to what the voice of God is leading. But once we grow in that understanding, things can shift, and it can give a new level of confidence in your decisions, even if they don’t make sense in the eyes of society or logic. We grow in this by spending time with Him. Spending time in the Word. Spending time in worship. Spending time in prayer, sometimes in silence. Expecting for Him to speak. Then listen – half of communicating is listening.
In the Old Testament, God spoke audibly a lot of the time, and He still can today obviously. But on this side of the cross, we have the Holy Spirit inside of us, who we get to walk with daily, and He’s constantly wanting to be in communication with us. He always speaks truth and He always speaks life.
In the Bible, there are two Greek words for the word “word”. The first is “logos”, which is the inspired Word of God and also a name for Jesus who is the Living Word. Then the second Greek word we see in Scripture is “rhema”. The rhema word of God - this is more of a whisper from the Holy Spirit on what we are supposed to do and how the Word is related to the here and now. It’s God speaking in the moment. Sometimes you may receive a “rhema” word from God that directs you to a certain passage of the “logos” that applies to a situation or circumstance.
The way that God speaks is different for everyone, but much of the time it can be a still, small whisper. It’s a “gut feeling” or a strong sense of knowing. For some people, it’s a thought that rushes in and it’s nowhere close to what you had been thinking about. Sometimes it’s a picture that you see either with your eyes open or your eyes closed. Sometimes it’s a sense of joy or peace that covers over you in a moment of chaos. Sometimes it’s wisdom in a situation. Sometimes God speaks to you for you, for what you’re going through, or sometimes He speaks to you for someone else. Sometimes He just shares things that He wants you to pray about.
God wants to be in communication with you, the way He originally intended for it to be. It’s literally what we were all created to be. So spend time with Him, in the Word, in prayer, in worship, in silence, and listen. “For no word from God will ever fail.” (Luke 1:37). God wants to speak with you!