“People who say they hear God’s voice are crazy!”
I looked up from my desk and responded to my co-worker, who had come in from dealing with a drug-abusing client.
“Um, some are, yeah. God speaks to me all the time.”
“But not in an audible voice.”
“Well,” I said hesitantly, “Sure. In a lot of ways. Sometimes with a hit upside the head.”
“But he doesn’t tell you to do crazy things.”
“God guides me, and some people might think the path is crazy. I am married to a pastor, you know, and I do work here.”
We laughed. He turned to go back on the road.
“Remind me sometime to tell you about when I met God,” I called after him.
That conversation was a while ago now, but I have often pondered how I would respond should the subject come up again. Has God audibly spoken to me? How does God speak to me? The evil one tries to imitate God, and I sometimes act like I am God, so do I know what I hear is God’s voice, God’s direction?
My memory of salvation at a summer Bible camp includes the form of a man sitting beside me, explaining this was my choice, and if I chose to follow Him, He would never leave me. I understood during that conversation the choice did not mean a change in my situation, but I knew I would somehow be protected with His presence in my life.
Jesus? An angel? Perhaps just the imagination of a child creating a memory among so many missing memories? Whatever your theology on the matter, God’s invitation was and is clear. Follow Him. He will never leave you, and His presence makes all the difference.
I’ve also heard God speak to me through songs. Even when I strayed down a stony path, God reminded me through an often-played song, of His presence as He waited for me to follow Him once again.
Many years later the words of a different song began a conversation between God and me about what the song meant at that moment. “It is Well with My Soul.” One of my husband’s favourite hymns began to play as I drove along.
“So, God,” I asked anxiously, “does that song mean the ambulance I just saw is for Wally? Is it well with his soul? Because he is now with you or because he’s alright and not hurt?”
“What did I tell the disciples?”
“That the other disciple’s story is none of their concern.”
“So, Wally’s wellness is none of my business?”
“Right. Is it well with your soul?”
Comfort washed away my anxiety (most of it). Yes, no matter what happened to Wally on that motorcycle, my soul was well because God was ever-present with me.
Three years later, I sat alone in the hospital waiting room. I hadn’t read that day’s devotional, so I opened the app on my phone.
For I am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand and
says to you, “Do not fear; I will help you. (Isaiah 41:13 NIV)
“So, after the mammogram and the magnified mammogram, this ultrasound will confirm they are looking for cancer?” I asked.
“Yes, there is cancer.”
“Okay. As long as you are holding my hand.”
The peace at that moment was beyond anything I have known since. God was with me and that would make all the difference.
The story was different after another three years as I stood beside a hospital bed, weeping.
“God, please don’t take my man. I need him. I don’t know how to live without him.”
“This choice is not yours.”
“I know. But I’m not strong enough to handle this,” I argued.
“Am I with you?”
“Am I with him?”
“Will you trust me?”
“I can’t fight you. If you want him now, I know it will be right whether I like it or not.” That was as far as I was willing to go at that moment, but I felt the Lord’s arms wrap around me as He stood beside me once again.
It took a long time, years, to give in to God on this. Even though Wally’s cancer and complications did not kill him, and I still enjoy life with him beside me, (40 years next spring!) I was almost resentful that God would treat him - no, me - like that. The fear of abandonment was deep and brought up all sorts of hidden emotions and thoughts; unhealthy thoughts that were buried deep that I once again needed to work through to separate the lies from the Truth. It’s not an easy battle, and it continues to wage on.
Isn’t that the point, though? God is with me and will walk beside me, and even carry me, through this earthly life. Jesus has saved me, so my soul is well. The Spirit does teach me Truth. Yet the question remains and is probably the most important aspect of hearing God’s voice.
How can we be sure we are hearing God’s voice?
We are very good at wanting to go our own way, finding any justification to convince ourselves it is God’s guidance. However, God has provided practical tests that will confirm or deny that we are in God’s will, responding to His guidance, and hearing His voice.
Does what we are hearing line up with Scripture? First and foremost, do we know what God has said in His Word so the Spirit of God can remind us of God’s view? The Bible has been preserved throughout time for a reason.
Have we prayed? Have we opened a conversation with God, believing He will respond to us? How God responds may look different for each of us. Am I listening for how He might talk to me?
Only after talking to God and considering His Word do we go to others for their opinion. And not just any other. This is not a time to collect a team of yes-men, but to seek out other Believers who you respect and trust to ask discerning questions about what you are hearing.
The last test - not to be used before the others - is circumstance. Have you laid out a fleece, and perhaps even laid it out again, as Gideon did in Judges 6? God can use our situation to lead us, to open and close doors, but I reiterate, do not depend on your circumstances to be God’s voice. Know His voice, first.
“Only crazy people hear God’s voice.”
Call me crazy, then. Do you hear God calling your name?
Call me crazy, then. Do you hear God calling your name?
I hear God’s voice. Do you?
Marnie Pohlmann writes to share the difference made in the life of one who listens to God's voice. Hard of hearing at times, she continues to learn Truth.