“Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, ‘This is the way you should go,’ whether to the right or to the left.”– Isaiah 30:21
Some voices you just know. You recognize the tone. You remember the cadence. You are familiar with every nuanced inflection. Blindfold your eyes and listen to a 100 different voices and with certainty you could pick out the ones most familiar. When my dad calls me on the phone, I never have to ask, “Now who is this?” When my kids call to say “hey” in the midst of a busy day, I don’t need caller ID to tell me which one is calling. When my wife speaks my name in the midst of a room full of voices, I can always discern her speech. Some voices you just know. For a number of years now, I have had the honor of appearing on Sunday morning television with a minute-long devotional thought that I call, “Moments that Matter.” I’m recognized often in and around town. But sometimes, it’s my voice that gives me away. It’s not uncommon for someone to look up and say, “I know you… I recognize your voice.”
There are certain leaders whose voices we immediately recognize. Take the voices of presidents for example. If I were to play you some sound clips, you could discern the voice of Donald Trump, or Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Ronald Regan, or Jimmy Carter. Even George W and George H have distinguishable voices. Pay attention long enough, and soon the voices become very clearly recognized in your mind.
But what about the voice of God? Do we recognize it? Can we distinguish it among the millions of others voices on the planet? Do we hear it with clarity and offer our careful attention? Remember that it is never a question of whether or not God speaks… it is always a question of our willingness to listen. Sometimes we don’t hear the voice of God because we don’t want to hear the voice of God. We would rather listen to the voice of self-reliance deeply embedded in our brains. We would rather listen to the voice of human nature over the voice of Spirit whisper. We would rather listen to the winds of culture that blow through our minds rather than the breath of the Spirit that seeks to speak truth into our hearts.
Isaiah once promised the Israelites that God would direct their paths and give guidance to every decision. He spoke of a voice that would be heard in their ears, a voice that would whisper which step to take. He assumed that they would be listening for the voice in the first place.
I’m not sure if you will ever hear the audible voice of God in your ears, telling you what to do or what not to do. I’m not saying that it won’t happen, or doesn’t happen. In fact, I certainly don’t discount the claims of the faithful who truly believe that God has spoken to them with an audible voice. For most of us, however, it doesn’t happen that way. The prompting of God is more of a whisper, a tap on the shoulder, a sudden prompting of when to act or which direction to take. It’s more than intuition. It’s more than just a “gut feeling.” It’s a purposeful prompting that makes sense when held up the light of God’s continuing work in our lives. It’s a discernment… an undeniable affirmation that this is what we are supposed to do with this moment.
We should not be surprised when we feel His leadership… in fact, we should be surprised when we don’t. Again, it is my belief that God speaks all the time. His Spirit offers direction in both the large and small aspects of our lives. But understand… the Spirit assumes that we are listening. Maybe we need to take our fingers out of our ears and attempt to listen. Maybe we need to turn down the voices of social media, the drone of television, or the incessant rattle of culture. God longs to speak and we need to listen. Who knows… in the quietness of a moment we just may hear The Voice. – Dr. Jon Roebuck