Recognizing God’s Voice is something most of us tend to struggle with. “How do I know it’s God and not just my own thoughts?” we wonder. Sometimes that is an easy question to answer. I know I’ve heard God’s Voice before because there is no way I would have just thought the thing that came to my mind. Other times, it is harder to distinguish whether the desire in your heart is your own will or what God is calling you toward. When it comes to distinguishing God’s Voice in the Bible, my thoughts instantly turn to the story in 1 Kings 19.
In this story, God tells Elijah to go stand on a mountain and wait for God to pass by. So Elijah waits on the mountain. While he is waiting, a strong wind sweeps through the mountains and shatters the rocks, but God wasn’t in the wind. So Elijah waits until an earthquake shakes the mountain on which he was standing, but God was not in the earthquake. As Elijah waits there came a fire, but God was not in the fire. But after the wind, and the earthquake, and the fire are gone, Elijah hears a still, small Voice… and it was the Lord speaking to him.
Elijah was waiting to hear God’s Voice in all these huge things. That’s where we naturally would expect God to be, but He wasn’t in the wind, or the earthquake, or the fire (although He has been known to appear in all of those things before). God spoke to Elijah in a still, small Voice. God speaks to you in a still, small Voice. Are you prepared to hear Him? Is your heart open to receive Him?
I walked in the door of my aunt’s house, but hung back where my two-year-old cousin couldn’t see me. My hair was a wild mess and my face was painted a combination of brown, tan, and orange. That’s what happens when you score a part as a monkey in The Jungle Book. I was afraid Leah wouldn’t recognize me, so I stayed back in the shadows and began speaking before she could get a glimpse of my face. I finally worked up the nerve to approach her. When I said her name, she turned ever so slowly to look me in the face. I braced myself for crying and screaming. Face paint is scary to such a small child. I held my breath as Leah’s eyes connected with mine and she released a great, big… laugh.
She was laughing. She knew exactly who I was, and she was quite tickled by the fact that I resembled a monkey. Even though my face was difficult to recognize, she at least knew my voice, and that was enough to make her two-year-old brain put the pieces together. I was impressed by her knowing, actually. I had watched adults pass me, never realizing that they knew the girl behind the face paint. Yet Leah knew my voice well enough to clearly see me in a form that she might not have expected.
God often shows up in strange forms – like a burning bush or a Messiah who did not come to bring physical freedom. He has appeared to me in the form of friends, strangers, children, and the fantastical Prince Charming. I can take one story and compare it to the story I’ve read in the Bible time and time again… and I see God in a new light. He becomes the Best Friend, the Lover, the Prince of my dreams… He becomes more and more real every time He appears in a brand new (and very real) form to me. I’ve learned to hear His voice in the midst of other voices and therefore, I can recognize when He is speaking to me.
The God of the universe is speaking to you as well. He is all around you. The God of disguises does not have to be a mystery. When you cannot see His Face, you only need to know His Voice.