A drunken man showed up at our door one night. Since I was teaching a Bible study to a friend of his, he knew us a little bit and asked for a place to stay since his wife had kicked him out of the house. I did not get out my Bible, I did not even pray to decide what to do, I just responded by inviting him in and giving him a bed. Later that evening, he vomited in our bathroom making a mess of the wall and floor. Without reading my Bible or asking God for a word on what I should do, I went in and cleaned up the mess. The next morning when I woke up, before my head even left the pillow, God’s presence filled my heart and tears squirted from my eyes as the Lord said, “Thank you for taking Me in last night.”
People talk too much about hearing God as if they will get a special message or instructions from above. However, hearing God is not about the words, but about our response to His heart. Hard hearts do not sense the heart of God. Soft hearts do what pleases Him. We hear God when we are giving a kind look, stopping to pray with someone, or encouraging a friend. You do not have to be a super spiritual guru, seeing visions and hearing voices. Those who hear God live for Him in quiet simplicity.
God had to do something special to create our universe; He had to speak. Genesis tells us God said, “Let there be…” several times. We may not realize how unusual this is, until we realize this invisible God did not have vocal cords. He had to do something special to make things happen. The Word of God caused matter to appear out of nowhere. When He found His voice, the universe responded.
God’s words did not just make a pile of sentences. He did not just give us verbs to parse and nouns to define. He gave us water, trees, elephants, and bees. One day, the Word became flesh and lived in our midst. More than just a leather-bound compilation of 66 books, the Word of God lives and breathes.
When Jesus spoke, He did not just have a bunch of Bible study geeks following Him with notebooks and lexicons. His words raised a dead girl, cured a diseased woman, made a lame man walk, and provoked His enemies to murder Him.
God-words shaped the universe. It still takes the voice of God to keep our lives from going into chaos. When you read the Bible, you can walk away untouched if your heart is deaf (Matthew 13:3-23). Those who hear are blessed, however, as they follow His voice and live—God’s word changes their marriage, their way of raising children, their attitude toward their boss, and the way they handle money.
God draws us to Himself. Jesus said this “drawing” is hearing the Father (John 6:44-45). Too many people sit and listen for a clear voice to tell them what color socks to wear. Yet God only speaks like that on rare occasions. Some people pray, pray, pray to get a word from God. They listen for Him to speak to their mind, but get frustrated thinking they are not good enough when they hear nothing. Jesus never intended us to try to “get a word.”
When explaining we must follow the Father’s voice, Jesus told the religionists they only heard the voice of their father, the devil (John 8:44). Now if He is contrasting the devils voice against God’s voice, how were the Pharisees hearing from the devil? They did not hold séances. They did not visit mediums or palm readers. Instead, they heard the devil by following the spirit of the age.
Think of God’s voice like peer pressure. No one in High School has to say, “Do not wear polka dots and ballet slippers to football practice.” You just know. Peer pressure speaks volumes without words, books, or grammar. Peer pressure delivers a voiceless message. In a similar way, we hear the Lord in our hearts.
God rarely speaks to our heads. We know we hear God when we do what pleases Him (James 1:22). The legalist wants to know what God says about the details (how far he can go over the speed limit, what rules he can bend on taxes, how many church services he can skip, etc.). The believer, however, loves God enough to do what He desires. We know we hear the Spirit when we live to please Him (John 8:29).
As a professional writer, words are my life. Yet as focused as I have to be on dangling prepositions, misplaced modifiers, passive verbs, and the like, I know that all writing exits to convey a simple message to the reader. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all delivered the gospel message with widely varying styles and word choices.
These Gospel writers wrote to reveal a particular message. Luke prepared people for the outpouring of the Spirit in his second book, Acts. Matthew wrote a discipleship manual for world changers. Mark proved Jesus Christ to be the fulfillment of the Psalms and Prophets. John pulled back the veil and let us see the mystery of how the Son could be so submitted to the Father as to be One with Him.
As a student of Scripture, I love to study the Hebrew and Greek. I believe God inspired the words of the Book through the men to whom He gave the message. I believe in the infallible, plenary, verbal, inspired Scriptures (for all you scholars who know what that means). I believe we need to read and target=”_blank”>study the Bible everyday until God puts His message in our hearts. People who cannot understand the Bible do not struggle with the version they are reading. They struggle with hearing God. Jesus said, “Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word” (John 8:43).
When the drunk showed up at our door that night, I heard the Word by doing what pleased Him. There was no voice or drama, just a life lived in harmony with the Master’s plan. Without getting hung up on words or definitions, I followed His heart. Sure, I had spent time in prayer and study earlier that day, but I knew I heard Him when I did what pleased Him (John 8:29). I wish I could say I have perfected this art. Most times, I miss. How much more simple life would be if I would learn to always live by His leading and not just wait for a voice from the sky.