Sometimes the voice of the Lord seems almost audible. We pick up the Bible and it’s as if certain words are italicized. We hear a preacher and conclude God must have told him our secrets. The message comes across clear, direct, unmistakable. Other times, in order to hear the Lord speak, we have to lean in, to come closer. Because he is whispering….
You’re probably familiar with the story in 1 Kings 19 where God communicates with Elijah. The prophet had anticipated God would speak in some kind of shock-and-awe manner…in the howling wind, the earthquake or the fire. But he didn’t. Instead God spoke in a “still small voice”…a whisper. Maybe Elijah had to silence his expectations of how God would speak before he was ready to listen.
Hmmmmm…could our expectations be causing us to miss his whispers?
If we don’t realize that sometimes we have to clear our expectations as to how and where we can hear God’s voice, we might miss him. If we look for him only in the obvious, we may not incline ourselves to the subtle, and mistakenly conclude he must not be speaking.
Predetermined expectations as to how God wants to speak to us, however, is just one factor that keeps us from hearing his voice. It’s hard to catch whispers in noisy environments. We get distracted by the loud and the blaring. The voice from our to-do list shouts that we don’t have time for quiet. The worries of life scream for our attention. Before long we develop a habit of not listening.
But Matthew 13 describes the saddest hearing impairment of all. In the parable of the sower Jesus spells out one specific reason why the people cannot hear—they don’t want to. “For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears” (verse 15). It’s as if they put on their own private headphones to conveniently filter out what they don’t want to hear. They become desensitized to all voices but their own. They become deaf to God’s whispers.
Let’s not let that be a description of us. Let’s be alert, always listening for his voice, wherever we are, whatever we’re doing. Let’s lean in close so we don’t miss a syllable.