Sitting here at my computer, looking at this white space on the screen, I had no idea what to write for my blog today. And again, I’ve waited until the last minute of my self-imposed deadline of posting every Tuesday. It is in fact, a few hours past my other self-imposed deadline of posting at 1:15 every Tuesday. It’s not like I haven’t been thinking and praying all week about something to write, it’s just that nothing is coming.
“Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” But sometimes he doesn’t speak. So here I sit, writing about nothing. I once told a friend I would write even if I had nothing to say. That day has arrived.
This does lead to the thought that even though we ask, hope and want God to speak to us, sometimes he is quiet, or possibly he’s whispering so softly I can’t hear him. Or maybe I’ve been too distracted to really listen. Or maybe he’s giving me more time to figure things out for myself. Whatever the reason, I’m not hearing him. And I guess that’s OK. I’ll keep asking and trying to listen. I know I’ll get the message eventually, because he’s too good to leave me hanging for long.
The third basic guideline to keep in mind when hearing from God is to be humble, but not, as Dallas Willard reminds us, to be humbly arrogant. This attitude mistakenly asserts we aren’t important or good enough to hear from him. But the truth is, we are important enough – so much that God gave his son’s life for us and chooses to inhabit us as a living temple. “Obviously then we are important enough for him to guide us and speak to us whenever that is appropriate.”
Alternatively, Dallas reminds us, “his speaking to us does not in itself make us important.” It doesn’t make us righteous or right. It doesn’t even mean we have heard him correctly. Rather, “his speaking to us only gives us greater opportunity to be and to do good and greater responsibility for the care and guidance of others.”
If we are all hearing from him regularly as part of a mature, loving, relational, conversational relationship, it will be normal. We won’t feel the need to share it with everyone, because as with most of us, what happens in relationships stays private. We won’t need to parade his communication to others, as if it’s unusual or a badge, or that he somehow singled us out.
“In seeking and receiving God’s word to us therefore, we must at the same time seek and receive the grace of humility. God will gladly give it to us if, trusting and waiting on him to act, we refrain from pretending we are what we know we are not, from presuming a favorable position for ourselves in any respect and from pushing or trying to override the will of others in our context. (This is a failsafe recipe for humility. Try it for one month. Money-back guarantee if it doesn’t work!)”
I highly encourage you to read this book – it contains many more valuable insights on hearing from and listening to God.
As I’ve shared with you in previous posts, listening to others is an important part of relationships. I hope you have been able to practice servant-listening on your friends and family and to help bring this lost art back in vogue.
We also need to practice listening to the voice of our shepherd. In John 10:27 (NIV), Jesus said: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” We can only learn to recognize someone’s voice by time spent together, listening and becoming familiar with them.
Many misconceptions surround this topic, which is why I recommend the best book I’ve ever read about listening to God and of course, it’s by Dallas Willard. It’s called Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God.
The first thing to know about hearing from God is that it’s “not just to hear the voice of God but to be mature people in a loving relationship with him.” Hearing from God is only a part of the relationship.
A great way to prepare to hear from him is a beautiful song from Mercy Me: Word of God, Speak. I recommend listening to the song, reading the book, and in the stillness of a quiet, humble heart, begin listening to his still, small voice.
Next week, more about how to listen to his voice.