Beliefnet
Your Morning Cup of Inspiration

The world is a noisy place.  If you live and work with people, you are bombarded by their opinions, issues and needs.  If you watch television or the read the news, there is more of the same.  It is hard not to be overwhelmed by the racket.  It is even harder to ignore those distractions and focus on having a relationship with God.  Why?  Because God speaks to us in what the Bible calls “a still small voice.”  Unlike the world, God’s approach to us is subtle.  Yet His way is much more powerful.  His is the voice that we can’t hear naturally, but it is the one we cannot ignore.

The term “still small voice” comes from 1 Kings 19:11-13.  In this part of the Bible story, Elijah is on Mount Horeb when God speaks to him.  The author tells us that when God comes, there first is a strong wind that breaks the rocks into pieces.  Then there is an earthquake and then a fire.  The Bible makes clear that God does not speak to Elijah through any of these dramatic events of nature.  Instead, when it is all over, God speaks to Elijah in “a still small voice” (KJV) or a “gentle whisper” (NIV).  It is significant that God comes to Elijah quietly, only after all the noise.

In practical terms, what does it mean for us to hear God?  What does it mean to hear that gentle whisper?  God often talks to us through our gut.  So, if you don’t feel at peace about a decision, that is God’s way of telling you not to do it.  Instead, pray for God to open new doors.  They may not be the doors that you were thinking of, but they will be the right ones.  If someone doesn’t treat you well, God will plant in your heart concerns about the relationship.  Don’t stay with that person.  Have faith that God will bring someone kind into your life.  Likewise, don’t pursue a career that doesn’t feel right to you.  That is God’s way of telling you that you would be better suited to do something else.   Wait and pray for God to bring you the right opportunities.

The challenge for each of us is to ignore the voices coming at us from the world, and instead to listen to God.  Every bad choice I’ve made in my life, every mistake I’ve made, has been because I listened to people instead of listening to God.  People don’t have bad intentions, but they are fallible.  They are interested in your living in a way that serves their needs.  People will encourage you to stay in a bad marriage because they think that divorce is wrong.  They will encourage you to follow a career path that doesn’t suit you because it is a stable profession.  They will push you into decisions that would be right for them but are wrong for you.  People have funny ideas.  Ignoring people is hard but necessary in order to allow God to direct your life.

In order to hear God, it is important to create time each day that is without distraction.  We can’t hear God if the TV is blaring, or the radio is on in our car every time we drive somewhere.  We can’t hear God if we are attached to our phones and computers.  We can’t hear God if we don’t stop talking when we pray.  Silence is difficult.  When we are silent, the thoughts that we have been trying to avoid come into our minds.  But if we are patient, those thoughts will leave.  And then there will be space for that still small voice.

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