One of the most beautiful and vital aspects of having a relationship with God is being able to not only speak to Him, but also hear his voice. When I stop to think about the reality of this, that the Creator of the universe desires to speak to us, I am amazed every time. On a recent drive home from a conference I attended, I was reminded yet again of the importance of turning down the noise in our lives in order to hear from God. You see, on this night, although I was driving a somewhat familiar route, I decided to utilize my car’s g.p.s. system in order to identify the quickest path home and avoid any potential traffic. However, I also chose to blast some loud music and enjoy the ride. I was simply driving along and without even noticing, all of a sudden my surroundings began to look unfamiliar. Initially I wasn’t quite certain if I had passed my exit, but then all of a sudden I could see the lights of the city skyline ahead of me and realized that I had in fact missed it. As it turns out, I hadn’t even realized that I had the music turned up so loudly that I did not notice that the g.p.s. had been attempting to reroute me for several minutes. The crazy thing for me was that when I had first turned on the music I could still somewhat hear the driving directions, but eventually I had completely tuned them out. I was honestly in shock that although it was such a familiar route and despite having the g.p.s. turned on, I still went the wrong way. Immediately once I realized I had gotten off path, I turned down the music and began to tune my ear back in to hear the g.p.s. to ensure the quickest route back home.
It was at this moment that I was reminded that it is so easy to do the same thing when trying to continually position ourselves to hear from God. There is such a pull in the busyness of this life that we can get caught up in good things, going about our daily life, on our familiar routes, routines, and simply enjoying ourselves, when before we even know it, the noise of this life can drown out God’s voice. Sometimes God is even trying to get us back on track and we do not hear Him. Learning to hear from God and distinguishing His voice among all the others in our lives can be difficult, yet Jesus teaches us that, “ My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” ( John 10:27, ESV). One of the stories in the Bible, that I believe illustrates so well how to hear from God, is the story of Samuel as he was learning the sound of God’s voice, and how to have a relationship with Him. 1 Samuel 3:1-10 illustrates how Sameul was being trained by Eli the priest in the house of the Lord. In this passage of scripture Samuel lies down for sleep but hears someone speak his name. Immediately Samuel goes to Eli assuming that it is he that was calling for him. Yet, Eli tells him he did not call for him so Samuel goes back to lie down. This happens two more times before Eli realizes that it was the Lord calling to Samuel. This time Eli instructs Samuel to go back and respond to the Lord and tell him that he is listening. The fourth time that God calls for Samuel, he is now aware that it is God speaking to him and when he hears God’s voice his response is, “Speak, for your servant hears” (1 Samuel 3:10, ESV).
This passage provides several insights into how we can learn to hear from the Lord and how to remain open to hearing God’s voice in our lives. First, we notice that the voice of God sounded familiar to Samuel. This is a reminder that God can and will speak to us through the familiar things of this life and we must be sure that we tune our ears to learn what His voice sounds like to us. Second, we can observe that it was in the quiet of the night hours that Samuel heard God’s voice. Samuel easily heard God’s voice because of the lack of noise, thus, we remind ourselves to quiet the noise of this life that we can hear clearly from God. Third, we see that Eli was instrumental in helping Samuel understand that it was God calling for him. From this we can learn that God can use others in our lives like mentors, pastors, parents, elders, and even friends to help us identify God speaking in our lives. While driving home that night I was able to quickly get back on route and the mistake only cost me about ten additional minutes. I am so grateful to know that even when we do get off track in life, God is so faithful to direct us back to the path if we are careful to tune our ears to hear His voice, and He can even redeem the missing time. This experience was such a great reminder for me to turn down the noise of my life, and instead, to continually practice tuning my ear to God’s voice. Today my hope for us is this, that we realize that tuning our ear to God’s voice is not a one time decision, it is a continual daily spiritual discipline that we must practice. Be encouraged that God desires to speak to you, and that if you will turn down the noise in your own life, and wait on God to speak like Samuel, that He will be faithful to speak to you as your loving Shepherd.
Rev. Stephanie Harrison