Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Knock, Knock - Who's There?

I have had it happen too many times to ignore. The voice has been clear and unmistakable. It hasn't always been what I have wanted to hear, but the speaker has almost always been obvious - God.

I don't think I am special in hearing God's voice and I don't think that He speaks only to certain folks. I think God talks to all of us. I take it rather for granted, however, that we all know how to discern the voice of God until one of my acquaintances asks me, "How do you know it's God? " Hmmmm... One of those moments that stops me in my tracks and makes me think about my relationship with the Almighty. How am I sure? How do I know that the voice I hear is Him and not, well, just voices?

It isn't always easy to discern the voice of God in our everyday life. We are constantly barraged by the electronic blips and bleeps that assail us from every pocket, purse and corner of our offices. Our lives are rapidly becoming so loud we can hardly hear each other talk, much less hear a being that has to compete with our ever distracted thoughts. Stop right now and listen... Is there music playing in the background? Is there a television competing not only for your eyes, but your ears as well? Do you need noise to fall asleep as well as noise to wake you up? It is no wonder we cannot hear our Lord trying to get through the cacophony that is our modern life. Yet He never quits trying to reach us, at least for a time.

There are times I can hear God very clearly indeed. Those times I am sitting quietly, either by choice or by force, no distractions and no competition for my attention. I may be seeking Him in prayer, or just reading in my quiet time I have committed to reserve for just Him. Those times it is easy to determine what God is trying to say to me. I am actively listening.

Other times I may be driving, ruminating on a problem or a desire and God will interject His very distinctive voice into my world and make me take notice. Still other times, I may have my head firmly buried in the sand, piping in background noise, foreground noise, watching movies and humming to myself.... He can still get through by bipping the back of my head - and believe me, He does!

So when I hear the voice, how do I know whose voice I am hearing? What confirms it for me and how do I avoid being tricked by the enemy?

First, I pray. If the voice I am hearing is sounding just this side of crazy and asking me to do something completely out of the blue, I pray about it. I ask God to make whatever He is trying to say to me crystal clear and I also pray that if it isn't His voice He would banish the thoughts from me as far as east from west. If the thought is an enemy attack, it vanishes into thin air and I am relieved.

Second, I line up the voice with scripture. Is what the voice telling me a Godly desire, thought or action? This becomes a bit more challenging for me since I do not have the entire scripture committed to memory. When necessary, especially in very important decision making processes, I will sit with my bible and try to line out what I am puzzling against scripture. In these instances I also pray that God will guide my hands to find His words relating to what I am dealing with. I have found God faithful every time to deliver to me that very word to either confirm or deny His involvement.

Thirdly, if I don't hear an answer from my Lord directly, but I cannot find contradiction in scripture, I take the first little step in whatever direction I may need to go in my confrontation. If the voice is telling me to start a business, I pray, I check out my motivations for doing such a venture and confirm that they line up with scripture, and then I step out in faith. I step out cautiously, all the while praying that God will continue to guide me and hold me in His grasp. I turn over all my desires to Him and I beg Him to close the door if He is not in it.

There have been times that I have received a confirmation from the Holy Spirit that moves me to tears, makes my heart palpate and takes my breath away. It often ends in joyful or frightened tears at the awesomeness that is my Lord. I don't rely on this confirmation, however. It is an emotional response to my Lord's overwhelming blessings and as an emotion, completely unreliable and easily manipulated.

When you are wrestling with an issue that has you wanting the Lord's voice to ring loudly in your ears and you just aren't convinced it is Him speaking, pray for discernment, confirm it with scripture and step out in faith. God is listening, even if it doesn't seem like it. He hears each and every cry and whimper and He cares where you are today. Take just a moment, turn off the noise, breathe in deeply and let Him speak. He is waiting for you in the Throne Room today.