I was interested to read about a huge survey held on the Internet that involved more than one million people worldwide. A university in Manchester in the UK organised this survey to ask people how they felt about some truly horrible sounds. In other words, what are the most awful sounds you’ve heard? Some of the answers were a dentist’s drill. Yes, I can relate to that, fingernails on a blackboard, a cat howling and mobile phone ring tones.
But it’s probably no surprise that the sound of someone vomiting was voted the most horrible sound in the world. Now that makes sense, doesn’t it? Other results were the sound of people arguing, and interestingly, men were more troubled by the sound of crying babies than women. So sound plays a big part in our lives. Our lives can sometimes feel like constant noise is with us – voices from every side. And unless you have a hearing difficulty, we hear sounds all day. Hopefully, none at night when we go to bed. But did you know the Bible uses hearing rather than seeing as the primary image for how people come to know God. Now there are many verses in the Bible that refer to God speaking to people. Our problem today is we’re not used to that image. Noise can be very distracting. Very annoying. People have made a habit of listening for God. Find it helpful to set aside certain times, finding a comfortable, quiet place to hear God. It does take effort to shut out the world’s noise.
A little boy was going to church with his parents one Sunday morning, and in the segment they had for the Children, he put up his hand and asked the minister, “What does the voice of God sound like?” It was an interesting question. Everyone, in fact, waited and looked at the minister for the answer. And this is what he said. “The voice of God sounds like your mother or your father or your favourite babysitter. When they comfort you because you’re having a bad dream at night, you hear them next to your bed saying everything is all right. I’m right here beside you.” And I think that’s a pretty fair explanation. There are many stories in the Bible in which a person is said to have heard the voice of God.
Abraham heard God tell him to leave the land of his ancestors to go to a new land that God would show him. Hager heard God tell her that her son, Ishmael, was also heir to the promise and that he, like Isaac, would be the ancestor of a great nation. Moses heard the voice of God calling out from a burning bush. And in the story of Elijah, we’re told that the voice of God was not in the storm or the earthquake or a fire, but in the resounding silence.
Hearing God’s Voice
So you see that for some people they heard the actual voice of God. In an ordinary conversation, we speak, and then we listen for the response of the other person. It’s the same with God. Once we’ve prepared our hearts to listen through prayer, we’re more likely to hear the voice of God.
Does He speak audibly? Well, some people claim He does. Usually that’s not the case. We may not actually hear His physical voice, but He does speak to us through the Bible. His word Hebrews 4:12 says “the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
So I believe that God speaks through our own thoughts and the conversations we have with others. And in the ordinary day to day circumstances, the best way to hear God is to establish a relationship with Jesus.
Jesus is God in the flesh. Get to know him like John, who said Christ was alive when the world began. Yet I myself have seen him with my own eyes and listen to him speak. I have touched him with my own hands. He is God’s message of life. That’s in the Book of Revelation. Jesus says to us, I have been standing at the door and I’m constantly knocking.
If anyone hears me calling to him and opens the door, I will come in and fellowship with him and he with me. If you’re serious about this, you will hear God speaking through your thoughts, and he will use ordinary practises such as reading the Bible, praying quietly and learning from the circumstances that you have or seeking counsel from other Christians as you reach out to them.
Usually, God speaks through what people have described as that still small voice to encourage those that he loves to choose to keep walking closely with him through life.
Dear God, sometimes I wish you’d speak audibly. That way I could be really certain. But that’s not usually Lord how you work. Thank you for good friends. Thank you for the Bible that encourages me in the way I should go. Help me, then, to trust you. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.