How often do you wish that God spoke to you in the delivery chosen for Moses? “There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, ‘I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.’ When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush…” (Exodus 3:2-6). If that happened to me, I would definitely be listening! Unfortunately, when I am trying to listen to God, I have never been confronted by any burning bushes, or any angels with trumpets—I would not even mind a booming voice from the clouds saying “It’s me, GOD (thunder in the distance), listen up!” But alas, it seems that when God speaks, the moments are more gentle and can often be missed.
Sometimes I find myself skeptical of my own thoughts when I am attempting to listen to God. Is God telling me to take this job offer, or is it just in my family’s best interest? How can we untangle the knots of our own thoughts from the whispers from God? How can I train myself to put on my best “listening ears” when waiting for God? What role does hindsight play when we hear God? These questions get me so worked up sometimes, I am very hesitant to ever say that “God led me,” or “God spoke to me and said…”
Honestly, I am not sure if we can ever fully untangle the knot made by our own thoughts; however, I find peace in the simplicity and directness of John 10:27, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” This verse reminds me that God’s voice is presented to us in the Word, and God’s voice is right in front of us all along (as long as your Bible is in front of you). If I am relying on myself to determine if it God that is speaking, then I am most likely speaking to myself. But, if I am referring to scripture when attempting to untangle the knot, I am ever closer to hearing God’s whisper. If I follow the Word, then God knows me and I hear God’s voice. I may not be getting the mystical “burning bush” treatment I was secretly desiring, but the Word provides me with a tool to help untangle the knot I create each day. Is a feeling of intimacy with God lost by thinking that scripture is the microphone needed to hear God’s voice? Why do I desire to have God speak to me through a burning bush or have some sort of profound experience where I feel as though I heard the voice of God? I suppose I can find peace again in the verse… “my sheep hear my voice, and I know them.” Perhaps when God speaks it does not sound the way I imagine, or perhaps there is no need for sound at all.
God Speaks to Each of Us by Rainer Maria Rilke
God speaks to each of us before we are,
Before he’s formed us — then, in cloudy speech,
But only then, he speaks these words to each
And silently walks with us from the dark:
Driven by your senses, dare
To the edge of longing. Grow
Like a fire’s shadowcasting glare
Behind assembled things, so you can spread
Their shapes on me as clothes.
Don’t leave me bare.
Let it all happen to you: beauty and dread.
Simply go — no feeling is too much —
And only this way can we stay in touch.
Near here is the land
That they call Life.
You’ll know when you arrive
By how real it is.
Give me your hand.
By: Harvey Bayliss