The biggest single factor in following Jesus and making disciples – is the ability to hear His voice. It is impossible to follow without a clear understanding precisely what obedience entails practically. It’s possible to agree on a sort of general basis with His principles – to be in favor of Christianity – not to be against it – but – without the ability to discern his will – maybe a Christian, a member – but not a disciple. Following is all about listening and obeying!
All of us desire to hear His voice – like Moses (God spoke to him like a friend to a friend) – Noah (receiving the measurements to the ark meter by meter) – Gideon (this is the strategy – practically how you must do it) – Paul (an audible voice). We may think we are not that special – in fact we are that special – if He was prepared to die for us – won’t He speak to us? If He calls us His friends (John 15:13-15), even addressing Judas before He left to go and sell Jesus – “friend” – it’s clear that He desires an intimate loving relationship with us.
You are an unceasing spiritual being, created for an intimate and transforming friendship with Jesus. Our creation purpose is to live in an ongoing conversation with God, speaking and being spoken to. If He promises to “come to us and make His home with us” (John 14:22-23) – surely He will communicate all the time. Remember the hymn : “He walks with me, and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own”?
BUT – the danger is that we would desire this ability of discernment just to secure the future for us. To be on the safe side – to safeguard our health, finances, possessions, children – have our own plans blessed. Like an ATM – if I only know the pin-code. Then the question is “How to hear His voice – as a recipe, a formula, a skill, an instrument in my toolkit”. Just give me a few easy steps that will help me to hear better. And precisely this attitude is the biggest reason why we don’t hear His voice.
Because Jesus does not desire slaves, robots, mechanical obedience, puppets on a string – but – FRIENDS!
Our failure to hear God is settled in a failure to grow into an intimate loving friendship-like relationship with God. The fact that we want quick fixes jeopardises the process to achieve what we want. I am married for 43 years now – the reason why we know one another’s desires, will – is exactly because we spend so much time together – talking and listening. Our goal must not be to hear His voice – but to grow into a deeper relationship with Him – to be mature people – experiencing our belovedness more and more – and we shall know His mind and will. There is no shortcut. Learning how to hear God is a byproduct of growing into a certain type of person – a lifestyle of living interactively with Jesus where he is not only a Saviour but especially a COACH for everyday living.
It’s about the relationship “Without me you can do nothing (John15)”.
In our country we buried Archbishop Desmond Tutu recently – a life that touched countless other lives – a Nobel prize winner. Newspaper reports shared that journalists could not get appointments before 11h00 in the morning – he spent at least 4 hours per day in silence and solitude. One particular touching testimony shares that when he was the chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission after the apartheid regime – his commission were divided on an important issue that had the potential to destroy all their good work. He took all members of this commission to Robben Island – where Mandela was imprisoned as well – he invited them to spend a full day in silence individually – even non-Christians complied. The next morning it took them 30 minutes to get consensus on this pressing issue!