A friend of mine once confessed over the dinner table that she “never heard God’s voice”. She was despairing a little because she wondered why she couldn’t hear Him despite her deep desire to do so. I asked her if she could think of a moment in her life when she felt God’s presence most clearly and she didn't even need time to think about it. She recalled standing in the supermarket and out of the blue beginning to weep over a woman picking up a bunch of bananas and putting them in her trolley. She had no idea why; she just felt an overwhelming sense of God’s love and compassion for the person. That sounded like God speaking to me! My friend had experienced these moments so often that she’d believed it was totally normal and she was genuinely surprised that this wasn't a common experience for me.
The way she heard from God was a rising up within her as a gentle nudge toward another person. She wasn’t hearing an audible voice and she didn’t even know exactly what God might be saying yet but if in that moment she’d taken a step of faith with this woman she may have just found out. So often we don’t get to say those fateful words “God told me” until after we’ve acted on a hunch and found that it was indeed Him guiding us in the first place. It’s called faith. Personally, 9 times out of 10 that I've shared a word with someone I wasn't totally sure it was God until after the fact. It was hearing their story of how it spoke to them that finally confirmed it.
If my friend had acted on the strange love she'd felt God would have given her in that moment everything she needed to bless this fruit-picking stranger through pictures, wisdom or a spirit of love and empathy. Even i fit was a simple "God loves you."
Today as you and I stand we are not what we were. We may look the same, sound the same and for better or worse even smell the same but beneath this ordinary skin lies an extraordinary creature, a new creation (2 Cor 5:17). What’s decisively magnificent about our new nature is that though our physical eyes can’t perceive it (and let’s be honest sometimes even our natural minds grasp it) we have been well and truly invited into the community of God. We are in the Son, alive to Him through the Spirit and securely adopted by our Heavenly Father. This beautiful eternity-now relationship with God has come to be described by many theologians as the divine dance.
Because we are adopted into the family of God by the Spirit we inherit His communication style. From within the very heart of our Father himself we find we know things, understand mysteries and see things. When God spoke to my friend He didn’t speak like you or I might speak to one another and why would He? He speaks from within us with swells of knowing, imagination and conviction. This is life in the Spirit.
Paul put it this way;
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” - Romans 8:26.
In other words, that overpowering feeling we don’t know what to do with is the Spirit praying through us and often God invites us to be the hands and feet of someone else’s miracle in the midst of it. All we need to do now in beginning to recognize God’s voice more is grow in discerning the difference between his voice and ours. Or to put it another way between his emotions and ours.
Here are a few simple starting points if you want to grow in this area…
Something to try this week:
For the next week try sitting quietly for 5-10 minutes a day and simply asking God to make you more aware of His life within you. Write down every feeling, picture, thought or scripture that comes to you. You may be surprised at what you hear! If you feel brave enough post a story in the comments section below… it may just encourage someone on a similar journey.