I can’t pinpoint a moment when I first started hearing God, but I know even as a young child I already heard Him. It could be that the limits imposed on me by my handicap developed a spiritual sensitivity in me. I remember when I was only six or seven years old my dad asked me what I would ask for if I could have anything I wanted, and I told him I wanted wisdom from God.
I feel that God heard that heart-cry from a little girl, and honored it. Still, twenty-seven years later, I long to hear yet more, to open my heart for more of God’s words and wisdom. But it is not an easy path, so much threatens to drown out God’s voice. I become unsure at times if God really wants to speak and if he wants to speak to me.
God’s voice in my life became more consistent and real when I went through some deep waters, and learned to ask Him more and lean on Him more. Still, I don’t hear him as much as I wish I would. I don’t try as hard to listen as I should. But I absolutely believe that hearing from God is critical to participation in His kingdom.
It’s no secret that many Christians do not really believe in hearing from God personally. I think a sort of Bible deism is on the rise, or at least I am more aware of it than I used to be. I cannot describe the agony that I feel when I hear people attacking the validity of God speaking to us today. At the same time, I wish to be respectful of others who don’t share the same views and acknowledge that I have much to learn from them, too.
Some of the stories I share will have names and details changed as necessary to protect others.
This series is not intended to be a comprehensive Biblical exegesis of the subject of hearing God’s voice. I’ll leave that job to people wiser and more talented than I! I will mostly be sharing my stories and thoughts, as well as a few resources for further study, and trust that you will do more digging on your own. The main point of this series is to show that God does speak today, and it is possible (yes, even essential!) to hear Him.
I also want to clarify that the angle I will be speaking from is not the only necessary angle. My words will be one-sided. But there is a reason for this. About a year ago, I heard a venerable Mennonite preacher deliver a sermon on healing. I couldn’t quite figure out the uneasiness I felt as I listened to his words, because I couldn’t disagree with what he said. Something clicked later, and I realized that what I felt was wrong was that his sermon did little to change the course people were already on. While this good man had wise things to say, his words did not encourage greater faith. His sermon distilled into these words: “God can heal today, but be careful.” So some of that “be careful” angle will be missing in what I write, not because I wish people to be crazy and self-serving and unbiblical, but because I spent too much of my life being much too “careful”.
Another caveat that I want to leave with you: hearing God’s voice and reading/obeying the Bible are not on opposite teams. Sometimes I hear speakers promoting one over the other, but I believe that both personal revelation and Biblical revelation are important.
Finally, as much as I long to hear God’s voice, I know that hearing Him is not an end in itself. I want to hear Him because He loves me and I love Him. Dallas Willard states it so well in his book Hearing God.
“Specifically, in our attempts to understand how God speaks to us and guides us we must, above all, hold on the the fact that learning how to hear God is to be sought only as a part of a certain kind of life, a life of loving fellowship with the King and his other subjects within the kingdom of the heavens. We must never forget that God’s speaking to us is intended to develop into an intelligent, freely cooperative relationship between mature people who love each other with the richness of genuine agape love. We must therefore make it our primary goal not just to hear the voice of God, but to be mature people in a loving relationship with him. Only in this way will we hear him rightly.” (Hearing God, pg.39)
The next six posts will cover different aspects of a life committed to listening to God, lots of stories and practical tips. I’m learning along with you, and look forward to hearing from you, too!