Have You Heard God’s Voice?

Views of the Grand Canyon from Honan Point, Arizona
Views of the Grand Canyon from Honan Point

In some Christian circles, there’s a fair amount of talk about hearing God’s voice.  “God told me,” some will say, while others will describe it as, “I feel like God is saying…” or “The Holy Spirit revealed to me…”

Shepherd and sheep on the Chinese Wall Trail, Flat Tops Wilderness, Colorado
Shepherd and sheep on the Chinese Wall Trail, Flat Tops Wilderness, Colorado

Jesus said, “The sheep that are My own hear My voice and listen to Me; I know them and they fallow me” (John 10:27 AMP), and also, “Whoever is of God hears the words of God” (John 8:47).  He seemed to think it normal that the people who are His own would hear His voice.  Before He left earth, Jesus promised, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come” (John 16:13).

Jacob Hamblin Arch, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah
Jacob Hamblin Arch, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah

Still, many of the Christians that I talk to say that they have never or only very rarely heard God speak to them.  I believe that this is because they don’t understand how God speaks.  They read about people like Moses and Elijah who talked with God in an audible voice.  So they think, “I’ve never heard a voice from heaven; therefore, I’ve never heard God’s voice.”

A wild Columbia Lily along the Twisp Pass Trail, Okanogan National Forest, Washington
A wild Columbia Lily along the Twisp Pass Trail, Okanogan National Forest, Washington

But the truth is that God doesn’t always speak to our audible senses.  It’s been very rare in my Christian experience that I’ve audibly heard the voice of God.  But He’s always speaking, both to His own and to those who don’t know Him at this point.

Crater Lake, Oregon
Crater Lake, Oregon

How does God speak if it’s not audible?  Of course He speaks through His word, the Bible (some would call that the Greek word logos).  Whenever we read or hear the Bible, God is speaking to us, reminding us of Who He is, how He operates, and the things that He has done in the past that build our faith.

But that’s all past, and God is still speaking today.  He still uses the Bible to speak, but He is creative with other methods, as well, to continue speaking.  For example, the Psalmist wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.  They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.  Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world” (Psalm 19:1-4).  God uses His creation to speak of His goodness and His faithfulness through all seasons.

Old post along the Old Haul Road, Canadice Lake, New York

There is also the personal relationship part of God speaking.  Jesus came so that we could be reconciled to the Father; to heal the gap that sin had made between humankind and God.  Adam and God spoke together in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:8-9); we can now approach the throne of grace with boldness because of the blood of the Lamb (Hebrews 4:16).  We talk about having a “personal relationship with Jesus” but you can’t have a personal relationship without communication of some kind.

And so God speaks to us through His past writings with the Spirit breathing life into them so we can understand what He is saying.  And so He shouts through His creation about His glory and His works.  But in our hearts and minds, He is also speaking.

Barney Lake, Inyo National Forest, California
Barney Lake, Inyo National Forest, California

Have you ever been in a tense or confusing situation, and suddenly a thought popped into your head?  Later you thought, “That was a great line!” or “That was just the perfect solution.”  Chances are that wasn’t just your brain coming to your rescue.  God speaks in ways that sometimes seem to come from us – but it’s not us; it’s Him living within us.

Lower Yellowstone Falls, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Lower Yellowstone Falls, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

How can we tell the difference between thoughts and impressions that are from God vs. from us or some other source?  For the most part, it comes with experience.  But you can always 1) test that thought against the Bible (try John 10:10, for example), 2) pray for clarity on this one, 3) compare it to other things God has said, and 4) use your spiritual senses to test whether or not it’s from God.

Dead tree on North Dome, Yosemite National Park, California
Dead tree on North Dome, Yosemite National Park, California

Lean into God for His thoughts, for His perspectives, and for what He’s saying in every situation.  It’s amazing the revelation you can receive from God via the Holy Spirit just by being open to what He’s saying.