I was driving alone. My heart heavy with discouragement, a feeling as dark as the cool, night sky. Suffocating feelings of confusion and pain were the unwanted companions that I could almost touch. The never-ending health struggles our children were facing made the future look bleak and impossible. My heart-transplanted son was facing cancer and the doctors didn’t know if he would make it, while my daughter had just recently received her heart-transplant and was suffering due to complications. To say I was overwhelmed by life’s circumstances is an understatement. But something happened to me that evening that I will never forget.
As life seems to pick up speed the next few weeks during the holiday season, my mind is drawn to what I believe is the one thing I cannot fail to do during this time. But I realize just how hard it will be. In fact, when we look into Biblical history, we discover mankind has always struggled with this. Yet, it is the one thing that authenticates our faith, keeps us from straying, and offers us true hope and peace.
That discouraging night, I heard the gentle, loving voice of my Father. He spoke directly into my heart and soul, and the indescribable peace and joy I felt was life-changing. Although the health struggles continued, I had the assurance that He cared about what we were facing and He was there to walk with me. The peace that filled my heart was incredible. Because I heard Jesus speaking directly to me and into our situation.
I had been weeping and praying, but came to a place of stillness before God. I felt a warmth of peace wash over me as I heard a comforting, compassionate voice speak deep into my heart. It was a quiet whisper and the only thing I heard was, “Joel 2:25.” Nothing else. But it completely changed me and my perspective because I instantly recognized it as God’s presence and voice. I had no idea what the verse Joel 2:25 contained, but could hardly wait to get home and read this direct message from God.
I was an adult, married with children, following God for many years, and that was the first time I heard His voice so directly. But it certainly was not the last.
I’ve found that God’s voice isn’t usually an audible voice, but it is a quiet, deep knowing that you hear and feel within your spirit. And when you experience it, you won’t question whether it was from God. You’ll know without a doubt. Why don’t we hear the voice of God more often? I believe there are things that hinders us from hearing the voice of God.
We don’t hear God’s voice because we’re not still enough to hear Him.
In the ever-increasing speed of life, God would have to shout to get our attention. We rush and hurry in a hundred different directions, more frantic than at rest. Pursuing projects more than relishing peace. Our desire to achieve Instagram perfection can be the ploy of the Enemy to rob our joy.
I know I haven’t heard God’s voice as often as I could have or would have liked. But it hasn’t been God’s fault…it’s been my own. I get busy with all my responsibilities and activities and forget to slow down and be still before the Father.
We don’t hear God’s voice because of our own idols.
I love the holidays. I thoroughly enjoy creating a beautiful environment for my family where special memories can be made. But my tendency is to forget that my relationship with Jesus is more important than my relationship with family. How much sense does it make to have a birthday party for someone, but get so caught up in the preparations that we forget who we’re celebrating? They never get to show up for the celebration.
We don’t hear God’s voice because we’ve been hurt by God’s “representatives.”
Have we strayed so far from hearing God’s voice that we have a hard time recognizing it? Many of the voices we hear come from a condemning, critical place. We’ve seemed to believe that these voices are somehow the voice of our Father.
When you look into the story of Job, you’ll see that his four “friends” were all too willing to offer their words of accusation and criticism. However, God spoke to Job in a much different way. He never once accused Job. Although Job was a righteous man and pleased God in many areas of his life, Job still was fallible and imperfect. Yet, it was God’s kindness and love that led Job to repentance.
It’s important we differentiate between God’s voice and the accusing voices of those who attempt to speak on God’s behalf. Man often speaks with accusation while God speaks with loving affirmation, which leads to repentance.
Too many individuals claim they heard from God regarding a specific situation when they only “heard” what they wanted God to say. Hearing God’s voice is much more than us believing God is agreeing with our requests and desires. Hearing the voice of God is a deliberate choice to be still and patient before Him.
Our world would be changed if each of us would teach others to hear God’s voice rather than focusing on only the prophetic words of others. Why settle for hearing from God through fallible humans when He wants to speak to us directly? (Yes, we’ve had many godly individuals prophesy over us and many of these never came true. If it is truly from God, there will often be several confirmations you receive, and not just from one person. And if God actually said it, it will happen.)
We don’t hear God’s voice because of the iniquity in our hearts.
There have been times when individuals have told me they’re unable to hear God’s voice and it seems God doesn’t hear their prayers. At times, I’ve gently encouraged them to ask God to reveal patterns of iniquity in their lives. God clearly says in Psalms 66:18 that He will not hear the prayers of those who have iniquity in their hearts. As mentioned earlier, God’s voice leads to repentance. If you’re unable to hear His voice, ask God to reveal any iniquity within your heart. I assure you, He will show you in a caring, merciful way.
We don’t hear God’s voice because He is a gentleman.
God knows when He’s not number one in our lives, and will not force Himself on us. Remember in 1 Kings when God spoke to Elijah? His voice was not in the strong wind that tore into the mountains, it was not in the earthquake that shook the ground, it was not in the fire that blazed all around. But after all this, there was a still, small voice. God doesn’t thunder His way into our lives. Instead, He whispers into our hearts…IF we’re still enough to listen.
Could it be that God allows us to face difficult things, not only to get our attention, but also to allow us to experience the peace and joy of hearing His voice? How can we have a relationship with someone we hardly spend time with? Would you be satisfied in a relationship where your friend or spouse only communicates with you when they want something from you? Would you delight in someone who only asks favors of you?
God wants to BE with us. When was the last time we spent extended time with Him? Not out of duty or expectation, but because of our deep love for Him.
The focus of our heart during this holiday season is to simply rest and listen for His voice.
When I returned home that day in the car, I opened my Bible to Joel 2:25. “I will restore to you the years the locusts have eaten…” I wept with joy at the promise contained in this verse. It has been a favorite of mine for these many years since. God clearly promised me that He was in control, He cared and someday our sufferings would be restored.
Let’s slow down and hear the joy-bringing, hope-offering voice of Jesus. The heart that makes time and space for Jesus will be at a glorious place. Let’s slow down and savor the scent of cinnamon, cranberries, and fir trees. Feel the wind whispering, listening to the carols. When we linger in the quietness, we more fully appreciate the gift of now.
You may find yourself as I was, struggling and discouraged during a dark, hard season of life. Jesus wants to enter this darkness and bring His warmth and light back into your heart. Be patient and give Him time. Jesus will come. Emanuel. God IS with us.
~Cindy (For The Mullett Family)