“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” -John 10:27
What does God’s voice sound like?
A donkey, a gentle breeze, thunder and lightning, a bush that’s on fire but doesn’t burn, rushing waters, a human voice. These are just some of the ways Scripture describes the sound of God’s voice.
One of the hardest things about learning to hear the voice of God is that He speaks in such varied ways. I like how the beloved lion from C.S. Lewis’, The Chronicles of Narnia, explains this concept to Lucy:
“‘It is hard for you, little one,’ said Aslan. ‘But things never happen the same way twice.'”
It is hard for us to discern God’s voice when we don’t know what it will look or sound like. If we are willing to embrace it though, this is the part that becomes absolutely thrilling.
Just last month I rode the roller coaster of daring to believe God was speaking to me. I was participating in the online Adamant Experience with Lisa Bevere. Lisa shared how God spoke to her through a vision. It was beautiful! I thought to myself, “Wow! I wish God would speak to me like that.” But just as soon as that thought came, another rode its curtails, “What would it be like to have God speak to me through a vision? That might be a little freaky. I don’t know if I’d like that after all.” While I remained on the fence about whether or not I wanted a vision, I was certain that I wanted to hear from God on a few things that my heart was questioning. I began to pray and ask God to speak to me about those things.
About a week later I pulled up the YouVersion Bible App on my phone and it took me directly to a passage in Isaiah. I haven’t read in Isaiah in a long time. I began to read, and as I did, I sensed and felt that the Lord was speaking those verses directly to me. No audible voice. No talking donkey. Just a feeling in the core of my being that these verses were for me. I knew they were specifically for me in answer to my questions and prayers. I wrote them down in a journal.
A couple of nights after that, Harold walked in the door after a long day at the hospital. He walked straight over to me and said, “Hey, babe check out what they gave me from 2 South” (the unit he worked on years ago). He handed me a worn, tattered piece of construction paper that had been folded into a card. It had numerous holes in it from the push pins used to fasten it to a cork board and the handwriting was fading. He said, “They were cleaning out my old office and found it and gave it to me.” My heart soared as I read this card I had made for Harold 10 years ago. It had two of the exact same passages from Isaiah that I had sensed God speaking to me just two nights before. Again, no thunder or lightning, but I knew in an undeniable way that God was speaking to me. It was as if He was saying, “Grace, you’re not just imagining things or making things up. You’re not crazy. I did speak those verses to you. They are my response and answer to you. You can trust me. You heard me right.”
If you have ever had an experience where you knew with certainty that Almighty God was speaking directly to you, then you know exactly how I felt. Nothing can compare with that! If you’ve never taken a spin on that wild ride, just sit tight and ask and you will receive. God desires to speak to you, and He will. However, He will not speak to you the same way He spoke to Moses or to Lisa or to me. God knows each of us intimately and uniquely. He alone knows how to speak to us in a way that will awe us and be clear to us, while not terrifying us. And because He is infinitely creative and boundlessly able, He will change it up each time. He loves us too much and knows us too well to be less than perfect in His delivery.
Henry Blackaby is a treasure trove of wise counsel on the topic of hearing God speak. In his book, Experincing God, he explains that one thing we can see consistently throughout Scripture, is that not only does God speak to His people, but when He speaks the person He is speaking to always knows that it is God speaking to them, and they understand clearly what He is saying. That means that although we have no idea how God will speak to us, when He does, we will know it is Him speaking.
Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)
Don’t be afraid to listen for His voice. Don’t be afraid to tell Him that you want to hear Him speak. And, when you hear Him speak, don’t be afraid to follow Him and trust Him. It will never happen the same way twice. He will speak to you in a way that is unique to you and the situation. I have never before had God send home with Harold a confirmation of His voice on a worn, beaten up piece of paper that should have been chucked in a garbage. I never will again. Next time might be a vision. Maybe not. I’ll just have to wait and see what wild ride He wants to take me on. You’ll have to wait and see too. But I can promise you that you are going to love the ride!