We all hear voices in our heads, sometimes competing ones encouraging us to support opposing ideas. Like the politicians who say they want a greener world and travel by private jet. Like the time a friend got a promotion, one we thought we would get, and we congratulated them while thinking we deserved it more. These voices are very confusing. Where do they come from? Whose voices, are they? How are we to decide which ones to listen to?
1 Kgs 19:11-13, “And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?” Apparently, God speaks to us with a still small voice. No wonder it is so hard to hear Him over the deafening noises of this world.
Somehow, we need to dial back the noises of this world, so we can clearly hear God speaking to us. Whenever we hear a noise, we can tell whether the source of the noise is near or far by its volume. The closer we get, the louder the noise becomes. It is the same with God. He chooses to speak to us in a still small voice, and we need to get very close to hear Him clearly above the noises produced by the devil, and people who are not following God. How can we know who is producing the noises that are keeping us from hearing God? By watching how they treat other people. God’s way is love, so the closer we are to God the more we demonstrate His love and charity, 1 Jn 2:5, “But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.” and 1 Cor 13:4-6, “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;”
So, how do we get closer to God?
When we remain a safe distance from God, the devil knows the noises he has placed in our lives are adequate to keep us from hearing God. However, when we begin moving closer to God, by reading the Bible or connecting with believers, the devil notices and realizes he needs to crank up the volume. He does this by bringing evil into our lives, or people willing to drive a wedge between God and us. He uses distractions and emotional distress to keep us overwhelmed and incapacitated. Jesus demonstrated the feelings of being separated from the Father while hanging on the cross, Matt 27:46, "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" This was the first time Jesus felt separated from the Father, and the pain and sorrow were overwhelming. This reflects the lesson learned in the Old Testament when God spoke through the prophet Zechariah to tell the people that they had separated themselves from God, 2 Chron 24:20, "And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the Lord, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the Lord, he hath also forsaken you." It is our sins, which Jesus took to the cross for our salvation, that separated Him from the Father. If Jesus felt this much agony, how are we supposed to live with the guilt separation brings into our lives?
This is why we are afraid to be alone with our thoughts. Thus, we seek music, games, television, and/or cell phones to keep us from being alone with our thoughts. But God still calls us, Ps 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” It is only when we calm our minds and reason with God that we are able to hear the Truth He so freely offers to all, Is 1:18, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Removing the clutter from our minds frees us to finally hear that still small voice calling out to us, Matt 7:7-8, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” God is not asking us to totally avoid the distractions we enjoy so much, He is asking us to carve out some time every day to be with Him, free from those distractions. We can think of it as our daily date with God. God knows we will become less attracted to the devil’s distractions, as we move closer to Him. It is a process of transformation, as His love leads us to the fruit of His Spirit, Gal 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” We can still enjoy the healthy distractions we love; however, they will not become our god, and we will live a more balanced life.
His Word quiets the noises of this world and allows us to see the path He has prepared for us, Ps 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” When we begin to see the path, it is our growing faith that leads us to trust God, Prov 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” We boost our faith by studying His Word, which renews our minds because we come to recognize how good His advice is, Col 3:8-9, “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;” and with our prayers, which are conversations with God and relationship building.
When we pray, we cannot be afraid to tell God everything; He can take it because He already knows what we are going to say. Our prayers are not for God, they are pathways for us to get closer to Him. Just as conversations with friends deepen our relationships, prayers deepen our relationship with God. When we come to God in prayer, it should not be structured or preplanned, we can talk with Him, as we do with our friends, Matt 6:7, "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking." He wants us to talk with Him, He values our friendship. When we do, we learn to trust Him as David did, Ps 66:16-20, "Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul. I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue. If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me."
God gives us every opportunity to come close enough to hear Him. He sends people into our lives as examples, people who willingly shine His light for us to witness. But, like everything else in this life, God will not force us. He always leaves it to us to make the decision, our free will in action. It is this freedom that allows us to feel the love God has for us if we would only open our hearts to understanding. Love is a choice, and God freely chooses to love us. When we recognize His love, we are drawn to return it, 1 Jn 4:19, “We love him, because he first loved us.” God wants all of us to hear Him and to choose to spend eternity with Him, Eze 33:11, “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?”
Some of us will not learn to hear that still small voice, and we will not follow Him, Zeph 3:2, “She obeyed not the voice; she received not correction; she trusted not in the Lord; she drew not near to her God.” The still small voice led Moses, Joseph, Daniel, John, and so many more, to do God's work; and it will lead any of us who willingly choose to come close enough to God to hear that still small voice. God could shout, however, then we would be afraid of Him, as the Israelites were, Ex 20:19, “And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” So, He whispers to us with a still small voice because He loves us, even when we are wallowing in our sins, Eph 2:4-5, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)”
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