Listening to that Still, Small Voice

Originally published Monday, 20 August 2012.

Following God can be confusing.

Because sometimes, he tells us in big, bold, you-can’t-miss messages what it is he’s doing and how he wants us to follow him or where he wants us to go next. Sometimes it’s just incredibly, refreshingly, undoubtedly obvious.

But then there are those times when you pray and you pray and you just don’t know what he wants you to do next or whether he’s speaking to you. When you try everything you can think of to hear what he’s saying to you, and the line just continues to crackle with silence.

There are times in my life when I’ve been absolutely certain about what God was telling me to do. When Scripture lined up with my heart’s desire, when I was overwhelmed by an only-from-God sense of peace about a decision, when words of confirmation came raining down on me in every direction.

Yet, those times, when it almost seems like God had a bullhorn he was using to keep my attention, are exceedingly rare, especially the longer and further I go in my faith.

In the Old Testament we’re introduced to the idea that God exists not in the wind or the earthquake or the fire but instead in a quiet whisper—what has been translated in other places as “the still, small voice.”

There’s a comfort in this, that even when God isn’t banging on a drum or blasting a trumpet in our ear, he’s still reaching out and leading and guiding us. He’s still speaking to us and beckoning us, it’s just with a more subtle approach. Sometimes, he’s just waiting for us to stop, listen and—this can almost be the hardest part—trust that still, small voice.

Because with such a still, small voice, sometimes it isn’t clear or obvious that what we’re hearing or thinking is from God. What if it’s from me? Even worse, what if it’s from Satan?!

Fortunately, though, Jesus tells us that “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else.” (John 10:27-29)

Through much of Scripture, we see this assurance that, like the psalter wrote, “You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny.” (Psalm 73:24)

Sometimes we just have to trust that if we are following God and obeying him and loving him and reaping the fruits of the Spirit, that he is guiding us and speaking to us—even when all we’re getting is the faintest whisper and an inkling of what to do next.

For me, it’s a matter of taking the Lord at his Word—literally, trusting that these things he’s said in Scripture are true—and then taking the step to be “faithful with little,” like we see in the parable of the talents (Luke 19).

What I mean by that is that when some vague idea to serve Him or to follow Him or to reach out and show love to another comes to mind—assuming it is not violating Scripture or the fruits of the Spirit—then I choose to trust that it is from the Lord and take a step in faith to pursue it.

For instance, an aquaintance of mine was recently walking through a heartbreaking time. We’re not super close and I’ve never experienced what she’s going through. I don’t have the words to say, and since I’m not really that close to her anyway, what good would it do to say anything anyway?

And yet, as I was praying over her situation, I felt like I ought to send her a card and, instead of trying to say something that made sense of the situation, to just tell her how much she meant to me and how much I appreciated the friendship she has shown me.

I don’t know if it helped, if it encouraged or if she just tossed it out without caring much about it.

But for me, that’s not really the point.

The point is that I choose to credit the idea to the Lord and to take it as an opportunity to, in one tiny way, follow and obey him. Because, as he said while he was here on earth, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me.” (John 14:23-24)

So in that instance—and many others—where I have a vague notion of serving Him in some—often seemingly random—way but I’m not certain whether it’s truly from the Holy Spirit, I make the choice to trust that it is.

And so I wrote and mailed it—my attempt to be “faithful with little”—and trust the rest to Him.

Carmen writes the blog, Life Blessons, which provides an intimate look into her life as a twentysomething woman as she details her experiences learning how to live out her faith, enjoy the simple things in life and be the woman God created to her to be. Along the way, she shares the blessings and lessons that are a part of this journey, the things she likes to call her "blessons."

Feel free to learn more at her blog, Life Blessons.

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