As I listen to the birds singing their songs every morning, I wish I could distinguish one bird from another. I identify the honking geese as they fly over the lake, and I hear the woodpecker as he raps for his meal. I can see the difference between a robin and a sparrow, but I can’t tell them apart by their voices.
My husband Dan can recognize the voices of several birds. He knows the robin’s sweet song, and he is familiar with the squawking blue jay. He can even point out the mimicking mockingbird. So, I’m trying to learn a few voice recognition tips from him.
I’ve also discovered a few tips for recognizing God’s Voice, since I struggle with the same issue in my spiritual life at times. Is this the voice of conviction or condemnation? Will I let faith lead me, or will I be confused and distracted by fear? Does this voice speak life or death to my heart? Does it give me direction or cause me to dwell on the impossible mistakes of the past?
1. Communicate with God. “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns” (Phil. 4:6).
First, I must remember to communicate with God. Sometimes I get so focused on the worrisome distractions around me that I forget the power of prayer and praise.
I’ve also learned that I can’t focus on many tasks at the same time. And if I try to multi-task, I don’t do anything well. So, I must find some way to silence all the voices around me, so I can hear God.
2. Examine God’s Word. Jesus says, “I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me” (John 10:14).
What if you don’t think you can recognize God’s voice?
God’s Word promises, “(His) sheep recognize (His) voice. (He knows) them, and they follow (Him). (He gives) them real and eternal life … No one can steal them from out of (His) hand” (27-29).
Sometimes all I can do is hang on to God’s promises—even when everything around me doesn’t seem to agree with His Word. Often my circumstances cause me to panic, because I can’t see how something can work out. My logic and my emotions resist the truth that I see in God’s Word.
3. Allow God to Examine Your Heart. I don’t want to pray about that! What if you really don’t want to pray about something? That can be a big red flag that we might have a little attitude going on.
I can remember when my kids would avoid talking about something with me—like a report card or a visit to a friend’s house. I would eventually force the issue if they continued to be silent, because I knew my kids well. If they were quiet, something was up.
Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong-then guide me on the road to eternal life. (Ps. 139:23-24).
4. Embrace the Power of Christ in You. Sometimes I become distracted from God’s voice by the worries and stresses of my everyday writing life. Yet when I choose to focus on God’s Word—listening for His still, small voice—I find rest and peace for my troubled heart and mind.
… Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death. (Rom. 8:1-2 MSG).
Many times my prayer is for God to just show up. And at times, He shows up in the strangest places—like this morning, as I listen to the chorus of birds singing again. I realize that I still can’t tell one species from another. But in my spirit I know that I’m listening to a symphony of praise to our Creator.
“Let every living, breathing creature praise GOD! Hallelujah!” (Ps. 150:6).
What distracts you from hearing God’s Voice?