Time Out (by Jerry Schmoyer)
There is an old story about two men walking down a busy, loud New York City street. Horns honked, engines roared, PA systems blasted advertisements. All of a sudden one of the men, who had been an outdoorsmen all his life, stopped and said, “What’s that?” The other man couldn’t imagine what he was talking about with all the noise and confusion all around. The first man went over to the side of a building and picked up a cricket he had heard. The friend was amazed that the outdoorsman had even heard it, but his ears were attuned to that sound and could pick it out of the din around them.
That’s how our spiritual hearing needs to be. We need to be able to pick God’s voice out of all the other voices clamoring for out attention. Hopefully this post will help you to be able to do that.
First we’ll look at what God’s voice sounds like, and then we’ll talk about some of the things He says. The first clue we have to what God’s voice sounds like is in I Kings 19 where we see it is a still, small voice – a gentle whisper.
Kings 19:11-13, “The LORD said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?'”
In the still, small voice of God we are given a message that bears the stamp of His personality quite clearly and in a way we will learn to recognize.
There is a speaker system at the Ontario Motor Speedway in California that has an out put of 30,800 watts connected to 355 speakers and able to communicate to 230,000 people above the noise of the car races. God could outdo that, but instead chooses to speak quietly. Therefore if we want to hear Him we can’t wait for Him to shout over the noise in our life but we need to learn to be quiet and listen for His still, quiet voice.
I remember several years ago I was marrying a couple that I had known for a long time and had been coming to church and Bible studies for quite some time. They had some major “issues” it seemed that had worked through, but the day before the wedding the groom did something that was part of his old pattern. I clearly heard God’s voice in my spirit telling me not to marry them, so I didn’t. The bride and both families really put a lot of pressure on me to go ahead with the wedding but I knew that God had spoken.
Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones writes: “God sometimes answers directly in our spirit. The prophet said, ‘I will watch and see what He will say in me.’ God speaks to me by speaking in me. He can so lie something upon the mind that we are certain of the answer. He can impress something upon our spirits in an unmistakable manner. We find ourselves unable to get away from an impression that is on our mind or heart; we try to rid ourselves of it, but back it comes.”
Remember, this is not a verbal voice, a sensation or an emotional experience. In fact, it can be very easy to overlook His voice or just think it’s a thought of our own.
Try an experiment: Be as still and silent as you possibly can for the next 30 seconds or so. Listen as intently as you can, noticing the sounds you hear. How many sounds? What are they? Close your eyes and begin to listen. Pause: Did you hear 1 sound? 2? 3? 4? 5? Did you hear the ticking of the clock? Heater noise? Birds? Traffic? Voices? Your own breath? Your heartbeat? Ringing in your ears?
We are seldom still enough to hear the subtle sounds. Most of us suffer from a steady dose of noise pollution: TV, radio, conversation. Constant sound bombards us until the naturalness of silence sounds foreign, unnatural, threatening, and we’ll do just about anything to cover it up. In a significant way, we are in fact addicted to noise. The constant blaring of the TV is for many an electronic companion whose presence we take for granted; Muzak fills the elevator; we jump in the car and switch on the radio to fill the uncomfortable void; even a lapse in social conversation is viewed with alarm, and someone has to rescue the moment by talking. Even in church, if a few moments of silence are called for in worship, most church members have this internal response: “When will this be over?”
We need to learn to hear God’s still voice as He speaks to us. I can think back on times He told me to talk to someone about Him and I didn’t. Those still haunt me. Better memories are the times when God put it on my heart to speak to someone and I obeyed.
I hope you’ve been learning to listen to Him this past week. Have you taken time to let Him speak and to sit and listen? Have you become more aware of when and how He speaks to you? I hope so.
Jerry Schmoyer has been a minister in Pennsylvania for over 25 years and has worked with teenagers for 15 years, ever since I became one myself. He authors the weekly Time Out series here at Life in Student Ministry in hopes to spiritually refresh your soul as you continually pour so much of yourself into students. God bless!
Posted on December 21, 2009