Saturday, October 31, 2015


My friend Marian calls it a “nudge.” Someone else says “a bolt from the blue,” another calls it “God's whisper.” Still another describes it like a “brush of angels' wings,” by which she means goose pimples, I guess. 

I call it an “inner impression,” a mental feeling or a sudden knowing. It is like a gentle poke in the ribs or God's tap on the shoulder to get my attention. The ears and eyes of my heart are abruptly alerted to something God is saying to me.

Whatever you want to call it, you know that you know that you know when God is speaking to you. It isn't audible but you hear the voice of God nonetheless; you see with your eyes closed. “My sheep hear My voice,” Jesus declared. The qualification is that you must belong to Him, be one of His sheep, and acknowledge Him as your Shepherd. 

I've heard that a shepherd and each of his sheep has such an intimate relationship that when several flocks of sheep are in the same fold, all bleating noisily, and several shepherds are tending them, each sheep can recognize its own shepherd's voice when its shepherd calls its name. Equally awesome is the analogy that Jesus made for the same kind of intimacy that is available between Himself and us. He calls us by name and we are supposed to be able to hear Him, if we are listening. But we have to be listening; we must have an obedient heart. We have to get quiet enough so that the static from the busy environment we live in doesn't drown out His voice.

“Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening,” is what Eli the prophet instructed young Samuel. Should this not be our spiritual posture? Many people claim that they have a difficult time hearing God speak. It shouldn't be that hard to recognize His voice, if we know Him intimately. We usually can recognize the voice of a close friend or loved one if they say only a word or two to us on the phone. If some of us older Samuels have a greater challenge discerning the voice of God, we may need a hearing aid. God has provided that through the Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts who tunes the volume up on our spiritual audio. God doesn't usually speak in a high decibel voice; He doesn't shout at us. He expects us to listen for His slight whisper.

God is continually speaking through creative ways. God speaks to us through His Word; the Holy Spirit quickens it to our heart and applies it personally. He speaks through His creation. He speaks through His Church and our Shepherds. He speaks through other people whom God “nudges” and they in turn “nudge” us. We exhort and encourage each other as members of the Body of Christ, His Family, His Household of Faith. He speaks to us through circumstances, positive ones and negative ones, if we are open to hear His voice.

The technology of cell phones is incredible, although we seem to take them for granted these days. Less than a generation ago our parents and grandparents would have thought such a gadget impossible. "Where are the wires?" To call them “smart phones” is an understatement. They are an analogy to our spiritual connection with God. Wherever we are, we are connected and can receive and transmit as long as there is a cell tower within range. God is our stable cell tower. We are responsible to keep our cell phone battery charged up so we will not miss His call. His call comes only into our device. He knows our individual number; He knows our name. In a room full of people and cell phones and noise, we can recognize our special signal or vibration.

Let's not miss the vibration of God's voice, that “nudge” notifying us that God has something to say to us. Let's expect Him to speak today in our ordinary day, speak to our ordinary need as well as our extraordinary needs. We don't have to wait for special occasions or when we are in special places to hear God's voice. He may surprise us with something He wants us to say or do as He directs our “going out and coming in.” If we are always connected to Him in an inner posture of “praying without ceasing” as Saint Paul encouraged us, our hearts are in the listening mode all the time.

“If today you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts” (Psalm 95; Hebrews 3 and 4).

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