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Does God Really Speak to Us? – Listening for the Small Voice of God
During the lazy summers of childhood bliss, I enveloped myself in books, sprinklers, riding bikes, and watching I Love Lucy reruns everyday at noon. In one particular episode, I remember how Lucy decides to run a grocery buying business from her kitchen, charging everything to her grocery account and pocketing the cash she receives from the customers she buys groceries for. Ricky mistakenly believes she is buying stocks in the actual stock market and when confronted, Lucy lies and attributes her “investment knowledge” to the “small voice” in her head who speaks to her and gives her stock tips.
Ricky: Now honey, tell me something. Where did you get this power you have? Is it some kind of sixth sense?
Lucy: Yeah, yeah that’s it. Some kind of sixth sense. I found out that if I just stand still and listen, a little voice tells me what to buy.
Ricky: Little voice eh?
Lucy: Yeah, and yesterday it said, “Buy Canadian Allied…”
Ricky: How about that!
Does God Really Speak to Us?
Does God “speak” to us? Have you ever heard the voice of God coming straight from heaven?
“Ahem…Hello (insert your name here). This is God speaking. Yes, it’s me God and I need to tell you something immediately.”
Wouldn’t that be nice? But hearing God speak is not what we expect. It’s certainly not easy. We want the dramatic bolt of lightning, the neon flashing sign, the loud and trembling voice from above that tells us exactly what to do.
“God, please. Just send me a SIGN!”
But God is not a God of easy answers. If every choice was obvious, how would we ever be challenged and grow deeper in faith and trust? God is a God of surprises and intrigue. God draws us closer with mystery, inviting us to search deeper for answers that satisfy and fill us. In fact, we can hear more through the small whisper of silence than we can from a giant sign or lightening bolt. Let’s take a look at how Elijah encounters God in the first book of Kings:
“Then the Lord said: Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord; the Lord will pass by. There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the Lord—but the Lord was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake—but the Lord was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, fire—but the Lord was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. A voice said to him, Why are you here, Elijah?…” ~ 1Kings 19:11-13
Violent wind, earthquakes, and fire and still God is not present. It is only until Elijah hears that quiet soft sound that he knows God is present. Ok…so we get it. God speaks to us through the small voice in the most silent of silences. But what does that mean exactly? How do we hear that voice?
Sometimes, nonreligious friends have looked askance at me when I say things like, “I felt God tell me that.” Or, “I feel God is calling me to do this.” I can hear the inquiring thoughts in their head as they wonder (with good cause) how I really “hear the voice of God.” It is difficult to fathom how you can hear the voice of God without actually hearing a real live voice.
Listening to the small voice of God sometimes feels like I’m straining to hear through the fuzz of TV white noise. It sounds like it might be there, but I don’t always know what God is trying to tell me. And that’s where prayer comes in. LOTS of it.
“Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” ~ Jeremiah 33:3
There have been times in my life when I could very clearly hear messages from God about what I needed to do in that moment of my life. Surprisingly though, those moments came through the most random ways. I’d be praying and reflecting on a particular situation, and each time I allowed myself to open up and trust that God’s answer would come, I’d receive a confirmation through something that seemed so perfectly addressed to me. Have you ever felt that a homily was written specifically for you alone? I have.
I believe that God works through the world that he created and speaks to us through creation, through other people, through the small moments and snatches of our ordinary lives. Although God speaks through the smallest voice, if we are sensitive, aware and receptive of hearing that voice, I find that we can hear him everywhere. I hear God speaking to me through the words of a friend, through scripture and the Mass, through that conveniently placed quote painted on the wall of a coffee shop, or through the random words of an extra friendly stranger. When I watch the sunset over a San Diego skyline and I feel at peace with a decision I had just made, I hear God speaking to me through that. God works in mysterious ways and we can find answers to our hard questions in unexpected encounters.
Just remember that without prayer and spiritual reflection, nothing will make sense. You might even be bombarded with conflicting messages and confusing thoughts if you do not allow yourself the time and space to just be with God and to listen. It is only through the silence you can begin to finally hear that soft spoken voice.
“Be still, and know that I am God!” ~ Psalm 46:10
Allow yourself to develop a constant alertness and awareness of God at all times and you will begin to hear God speaking to you through the most interesting ways.
How has God spoken to you lately?
a girl who dreams
This article was originally posted on the Words of Witness Blog. Check it out for more articles on Faith and Spirituality!