Listening for God can feel like listening for a whisper in a crowded room.
The voices around us and within us tend to be loud and dominating. Family, friends, colleagues, and total strangers all have something to say. And the voice within us—the one that replays conversations and rehearses conversations—has a way of increasing in volume. These voices keep us awake. In the silence of the night, when all else seems quiet, the crowded room of our minds quickly grows loud and denies us rest.
The Lord functions so differently.
In contrast to the loud, intermittent, and inconsistent voices to which we typically listen, the Holy Spirit speaks gently and peacefully, but often quietly. He rarely competes for our attention.
Many of us desperately need a filter. Is it possible to strain out the extraneous sounds and tune into Christ alone? Must we always struggle to recognize the voice of the Shepherd?
The Apostle Paul understood our struggle. He knew the power of Satan and sin (flesh) to distract us. He experienced the impulsive and almost irresistible “self” that likes to drown out Christ. The solution? Paul calls us to “walk by the Spirit” (Galatians 5); to engage a life of attentiveness, willingness, and responsiveness.
When we walk by the Spirit, seeking Him constantly and responding to Him obediently, the cacophony around us subsides. Suddenly, the crowded room becomes mere white-noise as we gain greater clarity on His voice.
The ancient prophet Elijah endured a violent wind, a powerful earthquake, and a consuming fire as he stood in a cave entrance seeking God (1 Kings 19). But God did not come in these ways. He did not announce Himself with fanfare, but came in a gentle breeze. Nothing has changed.
Just as Jesus rose from the dead without a city parade, giant spotlights, or public announcements, so He continues to reveal Himself in the stillness more than the limelight. But will we see Him? Will we hear Him?
Spiritual deafness has reached pandemic proportions. The outcome? Only the loudest voices get our attention. But the loudest is rarely the best. Indeed, the softness of His voice does not denote His reluctance but His love.
May He grant us ears to hear what matters most, today.
“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”