…the sheep hear his voice… - Jn 10:3
Have you heard the voice of Jesus lately? Yes, He does speak to us in various ways, and we can hear Him if we are listening. Not that we can control how we hear Him, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, the voice and direction of God can be known in the depths of our souls. This is not necessarily the booming voice that came down to Charlton Heston in the Ten Commandments with lightning as an accompaniment. It is typically much closer to the “…tiny whispering sound….” that we read of in 1 Kings. (19:12) Elijah expected Him in the wind, the earthquake and the fire, but the Lord was in none of those. God’s voice is different.
Hearing God’s voice involves, most importantly, the willingness to hear. That may seem like stating the obvious, but too often we enter into prayer with a mind preoccupied with worries and willfulness. There is no room at the inn so to speak. Jesus may knock, but the television in our head is too loud to notice the unobtrusive visitor. Such are our souls when they are filled with commotion and clutter. We must first prepare ourselves by laying down our own agenda and open ourselves to the possibility of anything. As the angel said to Mary, “…nothing will be impossible for God.” (Lk 1:37)
Prepared for ‘anything’ you say? But I have my family, my work, and my hobbies; does God want to take them from me? Not likely. These occupations, and in the case of family, vocation, are part of God’s way of sanctifying us. We will find Him there if we are willing. But, are we open to doing family different from the way we did it yesterday? Too often we can end up in relational ruts that bind us to mediocrity or even sin. What would you change if you could? Remember the Serenity Prayer?
Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Courage is necessary to ‘change the things I can’, courage which comes from God. That does not mean blasting people like a bull in a china shop or Rambo getting into a bar fight. When we have not spoken our dreams and desires for some time they can take on an intensity that overwhelms the people around us when we finally explode. Wisdom is also necessary here so that our desire to improve our lives is communicated in a loving way that can at least be respected if not embraced. Turning to God for this courage and wisdom is the best place to start. God knows exactly how He wants to transform your life. It is to Him that we must turn to receive the grace necessary for any good that is about to occur.
In God’s presence, which is always available to us through a conscious act of faith, we become all that we are meant to be. Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection speaks of this in his Practice of the Presence of God. “The holiest and most necessary practice in the spiritual life is that of the presence of God. It consists in taking delight in and becoming accustomed to his divine company, speaking humbly and conversing lovingly with him all the time, at every moment, without rule or measure; especially in times of temptation, suffering, aridity, weariness, even infidelity and sin.”
The habit of consciously speaking to God throughout the day leads to a conscious awareness of His Presence and His will for you, even in details that may seem insignificant. Are we willing to surrender our wills to this extent? Are we willing to give up the egotism of doing it ‘our way’? I helped at a funeral once where the family insisted on playing Frank Sinatra’s “I Did It My Way” as a postlude. Lord, have mercy. That’s about the last thing you want to be proclaiming as you near St. Peter’s gate. As God says to us through Scripture, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways….” (Isaiah 55:8) Come with words to the Lord and be prepared for an answer that may surprise you.
- ▼ May (4)