Listening to The Voice of God
There's a lot of noise in our culture. It's hard to find a quiet space to think and to pray. The quiet spaces in our lives are few and far between.
In fact, even the quiet spaces we find are frequently made noisy by the cacophony of thoughts in our heads, as we are often spinning with all the things that need doing from the time we awaken until we fall exhausted into bed.
Many of us have become programmed by the programming on our phones.
We'll be sitting at lunch with friends, and a familiar "ping" will sound like a notification on a smartphone, and everyone at the table will reflexively pick theirs up to check if it is theirs.
And then once we've picked our phones up, we'll all give them the once-over while the friend who got a message responds.
We live in a noisy world, and our need to quiet our spirits increases daily.
I recently read a wonderful bit of writing from Joan Chittister (look her up, you'll thank me), and she spoke directly to this very issue that we all are facing.
She acknowledged the noisiness in the world and decried how much it affects our peace, but then she went on to write this:
But it is the voice of God within that brings calm and direction. It drains the negative energy out of the present so that we can go on, calmly aware that there is nowhere where we are alone.
Chittister asserts that when we begin to listen to the voice of God within us, we learn how to pray differently. We pray as people who feel the presence of God all around us:
This kind of prayer prepares us to feel the presence of God everywhere because we have discovered that the presence of God is within. It enables us to respond to it in waves of trust that carry us far beyond the storms of the present to the fullness of the future.
So, how do we learn to hear the voice of God within us?
I'm learning something I never really understood in my younger years, although God's voice spoke to me then, even when I was too busy or noisy to listen.
I'm learning that the voice of God within us is a voice that speaks below the noise; it's a hum, a reverberation that is constantly there, like the bassline to your favorite song or a familiar melody that you can't get out of your head.
You find yourself singing it, and you don't know where it came from. It's like the most amazing and beautiful earworm you've ever heard. It's better than Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" or Creed's "Higher," which has been on my mind lately.
And this voice is speaking/singing truth and beauty into your life because that's what God's voice does.
It counters all of the naysayers you've heard tell you that you aren't enough. It thrums below the songs of negativity, depression, self-loathing, and fear that seem to be on repeat in our souls.
The voice of God within us is the one we know to be true when we hear it. We know that it is a voice for us and not against us. We know this voice because it is the voice of the truest version of ourselves.
And when we know this voice, we pray as those who have experienced love and goodness. We pray with hope, even amid our desperation. We pray like we are the answer to our prayers because we are.
So today, let yourself be as quiet as you can and listen through the noise to God's voice underneath all you hear.
You will soon discover that no matter what is happening around you, you'll be able to hear it, and once heard, the voice of God will never be too soft for you to listen.
It is "the still, small voice" that spoke to the prophet Elijah in the Hebrew Scriptures and asked, "What are you doing here?" Then, through the thunder, lightning, and earthquakes of his life, Elijah heard and came out of the cave where he was hiding and listened.
May you hear that voice, discover what you are doing here during your time on earth, and then do it with everything you've got.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.