Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Hearing God

A voice from heaven said “this is my son, the one I love, I am very pleased with him”
Matthew 3:17

            A couple weeks back my youngest son, Garrett, and I were having a discussion about God and the Bible, and he said to me “Mom, one thing I don’t get is it seems like in the Bible God talked to a lot of people but He doesn’t really do that now” I responded to Garrett by saying “Yes He does son, no its not a big booming voice from Heaven and I don’t think that’s how he talked to most people in the Bible, think about it if God had spoken to people back then with a big booming loud voice from the sky then why was Noah the only one building an ark?” 

I started thinking about how God spoke to people in the Bible stories I learned as a child. When you hear these stories and it says “The Lord spoke to Noah” you get a picture in your mind of this big godly voice coming down from heaven shouting at whoever it was he was talking to but if that’s the case then everyone would have heard it, and there wouldn’t have been any nonbelievers. So I started thinking that God had to have spoken to the people in the Bible the same way He speaks to us. I know that God speaks to me and others in a variety of ways; dreams, inspirational song lyrics that come on just when you need to hear it most, through the same Bible verse showing up over and over again in a variety of devotionals and readings, a quiet voice in your heard that tells you just what you need to hear, that new Bible study or church class starting at the exact time you need it to start, or a friend calling you up or stopping by and just saying the right thing at just the right time. These are all ways God speaks to us. I think these are also a lot of the ways He spoke to those people in the Bible as well. I don’t think Moses would have had as much trouble with the Egyptian Pharoah if there was a big booming voice from heaven, and I doubt Noah would have had people laughing at him and mocking him for making his ark if they had all heard this big voice from heaven. Moses and Noah most likely heard God in their hearts, while Jacob dreamed of his ladder to Heaven, Ananias received a dream or vision from Jesus to go to Saul/Paul and return his sight to him and countless others who were spoken to by God most likely in quiet intimate ways. That is how God speaks to us, quietly and intimately, its up to us to listen.

I can only think of one instance where it specifically says a voice from heaven was heard and that is right after John baptized Jesus. It is written in 3 of the 4 of the Gospels - in Matthew 3:17 says “A voice from heaven said “this is my son, the one I love, I am very pleased with him” (ERV). It is also repeated in Mark 1:11 and in Luke 3:22, John 1 addresses it but doesn’t specifically state the voice from heaven like the other 3. My point is, unless I am mistaken (which is quite possible), the only time it describes any voice from heaven is when God is proclaiming Jesus as his son, that was a pretty important proclamation with no other proclamations even comparing to it so I think the big booming voice from heaven was warranted. It doesn’t say but I have a feeling the other people who were there being baptized that day had little doubt that Jesus was the Son of God after hearing it like that!
Don’t you wish sometimes that God did speak to us like that? I know I was talking to my friend about a big decision recently and mentioned how I wanted God to just tell me what to do, I wanted that big booming voice, she reminded me that that type of thing was reserved for big events (like declaring Jesus the son of God) and that I would have to just pray and listen.
Listening and following through can be the tough part though. I remember a story from many many moons ago, the pastor at my old church told that really makes you think about the fact that yes we have to pray, and yes we have to trust God, and yes God does speak to us, BUT we have to do our part, we have to listen for God’s answer and act on it.
Our pastor told us that there was another pastor in another town and this town was on a river, now it had been raining and raining and that river was beginning to overflow into the town. The pastor was at the church and the church was beginning to flood. The water was so high the pastor was standing up on the pews when some men in a rowboat came and they called out to the pastor to come with them. The pastor replied, “No no, I’ll be fine, I’ve prayed and God is going to protect me!” so the men left him. The water rose higher and higher, pretty soon the water was so high the pastor was sitting in the rafters of his church when another rescue boat came to get him, once again the pastor told them “No I’ll be fine, I’ve prayed and I know God will take care of me, God will protect me” so the boat left. Pretty soon the waters rose to the point the pastor was on the roof of the church, this time a helicopter hovered overhead and dropped down a rescue basket and the rescuer pleaded with the pastor to climb into the basket and let them take him to safety and again the pastor told them “No, I’ll be fine, I’ve prayed and I trust that God will protect me, God will take care of me!” Well, the pastor died in the flood. When he got to heaven he said “God! What did You do?? You made me look the fool! I told everyone you would protect me and then you let me die!” God responded, “Well, I sent 2 boats and a helicopter.”
So you see God talks to us, we just have to listen. When he opens a door for us, we have to be the ones to walk through it; if we listen to Him he will tell us when it’s the right door. Anytime I feel like I’m getting it wrong or that God isn’t telling me what I should do I hear that little voice and it says “I sent 2 boats and a helicopter” and I stop and think about what God has already told me about the situation and what I need to do next, now its up to me to jump in one of them. God still talks to us, we just have to be willing to listen.


  1. It's so much easier to see those boats and that helicopter when you are looking back at them though, isn't it? I guess I need to pray that God helps me keep my eyes and heart open to his will.

    I mentioned you at Bible Study tonight! :) We have been talking about how we need to give generously, and it has been brought up several times that we also need to plan wisely for our retirement. I think the concern was how do we balance giving and wisely preparing for our future so that we are not a burden on our children. So having faith came up of course. I mentioned how you said you were going to pray and wait. That was like an "OH!" moment for me. We are so programmed to do, do, do. That waiting is not so easy!

    One more thing: I have a great book about God talking to people. It is called "God Winks". It is a collection of sweet stories about seeing God in the beautiful coincidences of our lives. I have never heard God whisper to me, but I have had some beautiful God Winks. I think my favorite was a shooting star I saw right as I was finishing a prayer one early morning. :)

    1. Jennifer, so far your book recommendations have been spot on! I am loving the last one you recommended - A Voice in the Wind - so I will certainly have to read this latest recommendation as well. I'm honored that I was able to give you an "Oh" moment :-) Praying and waiting hasn't been as difficult as I thought it would be. I have made a couple moves and before I do I just pray and say "God if its Your will it will happen, if not it won't, and I trust You to do what's best for me" So I know that whatever the results are, they are God's will and I trust Him.