We all want to hear God. I find it one part amusing, one part maddening that most Christian teachers, authors, lecturers are want to say that we can all hear God it’s just a matter of faith and/or exercises and/or activation and/or… I believe that they are sincere and I believe that they are at least partially correct, after all they speak from their own personal experience. HOWEVER, why then are there so many who do not hear the voice of God on a daily, continuing basis?
Some to be sure aren’t listening or asking. Many of those simply don’t believe He speaks, so why would they listen. Many others believe He speaks, but not to them, only to the anointed, the gifted, etc. I, frankly, don’t pretend to know. Here is what I do know based upon my experience, my observations of the life experience of others and what I have gleaned from Scripture.
In truth, I don’t know anyone, personally, who has heard the audible voice of God. I have not read of many who have had that experience. When referencing “hearing” God what most mean, apart from dreams or visions, is an impression, a thought, sometimes described as that “still small voice”, which is really no voice at all. Sometimes it is a mental picture or seeing a word spelled out, but mostly it is just an “impression”. In the secular world it might be called intuition or a premonition or a hunch.
There is a book entitled “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell that is secular treatment of that phenomenon perhaps most of us have experienced wherein somehow we just knew what to do or the correct decision to make without knowing all of the facts necessary to act or decide, yet it turned out to be exactly the right move or decision. While Mr. Gladwell’s perspective, at least in the book, I would describe as secular, I wondered as I read how much of what he described was really the voice of God manifest in the hearts and minds of people by his grace.
Whatever we may call it, however we may experience it one thing is for sure… it is by faith. It almost always requires a risk on the part of the “hearer”, especially if action is required. And, sometimes we “hear” wrong, for all kinds of reasons. There are no guarantees in this life.
Yet, “hearing from God” is of utmost importance to believers. Did not Jesus tell us that his sheep will know his voice? The scriptures are wonderful but they will never give us the specific information need to live our lives. The scriptures won’t tell me who to marry or where to live or where to work, etc. The Holy Spirit may highlight a verse out of context to give us direction, but that is decidedly different from a strict exegesis. Purists shutter at the thought!
For me the most powerful scriptural example of hearing God is found in the life of Solomon. Law school profs still cite the “wisdom of Solomon” in reference to the case he decided by ordering the infant to be divided in half. (1 Kings 3:16-25) How did Solomon obtain such wisdom? The answer is found earlier in 1 Kings 3…
Solomon was just a youngster when his father David died and he was understandably feeling a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of filling his father’s shoes. I find it interesting that the story is typically recited assuming that Solomon initiated the transaction with God by asking for wisdom. Not so…
“One night at Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, “Ask, and I will give it to you!” God did the initiating and he did so via a dream. According to this passage Solomon did not ask specifically for wisdom, as in commonly thought, rather … “So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” (1 Kings 3:5,9)
The Hebrew word for “understanding” is a word that literally means to hear, understand, comprehend, listen, obey. To the Hebrews “heart” in this context did not mean the pumping muscle in one’s chest, but rather the seat of intellect, emotions and will. So Solomon literally asked for the ability to hear God in his heart of hearts. Doesn’t that make more sense than to imagine that God somehow just injected Solomon with wisdom for every situation he would ever face for the rest of his kingship? Can’t you just imagine Solomon sitting on his throne and under his breath asking, “Well God what is wisdom on this case?” God answers, Solomon hears and what comes out of his mouth is wisdom.
Isn’t that what we want? We may not be reigning or judging over a kingdom, but don’t we all want and need to hear God? Scriptural principles are wonderful, but they are no substitute for hearing God in any particular context. I have long said that while it is wonderful that “God so loved the world”, what I need to know is that God loves me. When He communicates to me, by whatever avenue He chooses, He is really saying, “I care about you, I know all about you, I see you, in essence… I love you .” And, that is the real reason we need to “hear” His voice.
Last thought… Isn’t it interesting that God came to Solomon in a dream and while the entire transaction took place in a dream state Solomon’s request was granted and given effect in his very conscious every day experience? That’s the substance of another blog…