"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." - Jesus In the context of Jesus' statement, this was an easy thought to grasp. Shepherds in the day knew exactly what Jesus was talking about. In all of their caring for, leading, disciplining, protecting, and loving as shepherds, they knew that their followers (literally, the sheep) knew their voice, trusted their voice, and followed their voice more than anyone elses.
Thinking through that scripture this morning I wanted to share a few reasons why I often struggle to hear God's voice:
- My own voice is too loud. When I'm doing all the talking, sometimes I can envision God trying to get a word in edgewise. It's hard to hear God's words when the only voice echoing in your ears is your own.
- I tune Him out. Have you ever been in the middle of a discussion with someone and grown frustrated with them because they stopped listening to you minutes ago in order to process their own answer? Have you ever done that - tuned out someone who was talking to you while you tried to word your own response? Have you ever done that to God?
- I don't want to hear His voice. I'm just being honest here. Sometimes, especially when I already know the answer, I chose not to listen to Him. It's kind of like the person who knows they need to go to the doctor because they think they have an issue. The reason they don't go to the doctor is because he will only confirm that the issue is real. Many times I don't listen to His voice because I don't want to, the problem is, I already know the "issue" is real.
- I want to listen to someone else's voice. Sometimes it's not that I don't want to hear God's voice, it's that I don't want to hear ANYONE'S voice. Lock me in a room, turn on the TV, shut off the lights, and world ... leave me alone. All of you! This is NOT what God meant when He said, "Be still and know that I'm God!" In order to do that, you have to listen to God in the stillness, not shut Him and everyone else out.
- I don't recognize His voice. Have you ever been in a large crowd - a football game, a concert, a huge parade with people, bands, floats, etc.? If you have, then you know what it's like when someone you didn't expect to see there is shouting at you from across the crowd. You can't quite see them, you can barely hear them, and because you're not expecting them, you don't recognize them. Ever done that to God? Maybe been in the middle of a situation that you never expected God to show up in, and when He did, you didn't recognize Him?
- I don't know His voice. Or how about this, have you spent years with someone that you just knew would be your best friend for the rest of your life and then lost touch with them over the years? My 20 year high school reunion is this week and I've enjoyed watching posts on Facebook back and forth from the Perry Meridian Class of 1990 (Go Falcons!) But honestly, if I heard the voice of someone that I was super close to 20 years ago but haven't seen since June of 1990, I wouldn't know their voice ... or them.
- He's silent. There is another answer that I want to mention here, and it' not always an easy answer to hear. Sometimes, God isn't using His voice to communicate to you. Sometimes, silence is His best way to either get your attention or communicate with you. Have you ever experienced the silent treatment from someone you love? If so, were they communicating through their silence?
The fact that God chooses to speak to me is enough to blow me away. The fact that He longs to speak with me is more than I can comprehend. The fact that I often miss His voice because of one of these reasons? That leaves me speechless.