Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Question: Hearing God’s voice

This came in from BigRaff:

Here is a question for your blog. How do you hear God speaking? Scripture speaks of the small still voice. It might make for an interesting discussion to hear how different people hear from God.

Fun question! I’d love it if people would post their stories of how they’ve heard God.

For me, this has taken several forms. There are definite, distinct times when I’ve felt the Divine leading me specifically. By this, I don’t mean that there’s a supernatural being taking a detailed interest in my human life and telling me what to do. What I think happens is, for whatever reason, either desperation or extremity or inspiration, in those moments I have been particularly receptive to the flow of harmony that is constantly in action whether I know it or not. At those times, what feels like a direct message but is really an eternal divine idea breaks through the material picture, and I’m pushed in a better direction.

The message will be specific to the circumstance because that is what I can conceptualize at that time. What I’ve learned to recognize is the feeling it brings. Sometimes it’s like a deep breath of crisp spring air, energizing and relaxing me. Other times, it’s an increase in gentle tension that requires me to act before I can feel comfortable again. Another version feels like a hand on the small of my back, pushing me forward, into a new activity or situation that I may have been trying to avoid. Many of us have heard the distinct warnings that come from Spirit, keeping us safe from harm. Of course, there’s also those moments where it’s just all Love, infinite Love, pouring out on us all its blessings.

An example: I’m naturally very outspoken—Laura run amok will dominate conversations if you let her. Years ago, though, I realized I was running over people when I talked too much, so I tried to tone it down. I learned to listen more deeply and to think more carefully before I spoke to avoid starting an argument. However, this tendency can backfire, making me too reticent at times. For one reason or the other, I’ll feel I should keep quiet when there’s an important conversation going on.

But the Divine often has other plans. An idea will pop into my head, and it will sit there, waving at me. I’ll ignore it because I’m afraid if I voice it, it will just upset people. But then I get this growing feeling of nervousness, like I’m balancing on the top of a fence. Eventually I simply have to voice the idea. Invariably it turns out to have been an important contribution, even if it’s not always pleasant or what the other people want to hear.

I recognize that feeling now, and have come to trust it. I always obey it. And that, to me, is the final piece of the “hearing God’s voice” transaction. We can cultivate the ability to hear it all we want, but unless we then follow the leading it won't get us where we need to go. Whatever God’s voice means to us, it’s important to snap to attention and obey.

Some thoughts from Mary Baker Eddy:

The effects of Christian Science are not so much seen as felt. It is the "still, small voice" of Truth uttering itself. We are either turning away from this utterance, or we are listening to it and going up higher. Willingness to become as a little child and to leave the old for the new, renders thought receptive of the advanced idea. Gladness to leave the false landmarks and joy to see them disappear, — this disposition helps to precipitate the ultimate harmony. The purification of sense and self is a proof of progress. "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." --Science and Health

The infinite Truth of the Christ-cure has come to this age through a "still, small voice," through silent utterances and divine anointing which quicken and increase the beneficial effects of Christianity. I long to see the consummation of my hope, namely, the student's higher attainments in this line of light. --Science and Health

Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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At 4/03/2007 10:53:00 AM, Blogger Kate said...

Hmmm...God's voice...sometimes it is for me an actual "voice"...but my favorite example is one from my daughter's childhood. She was struggling with an unanswered prayer when I found her crying in bed one night. I asked her why she was so sad and she said that she didn't think God heard her or gave her an answer.

I asked her "What do you think God's answer will feel or sound like?" She said she didn't know. So I went to her bookcase and found "A Child's Life of Mary Baker Eddy"...and read her the story of young Mary hearing God's voice speaking to her audibly and her running to her mother thinking that it was her mother calling her. Hannah was already familiar with the story of young Samuel thinking that God's voice was his guardian, the priest, Eli calling to him.

But when she heard the story of young Mary and how she ran to her mother and even took her cousin Mehitable with her for confirmation that a voice had spoken...Hannah sat up with a gasp and said, "Oh my gosh...God is a woman..I've been listening for a man." With that she lay back with a peaceful serene look on her face.

Little did I know that her unaswered prayer had been for, and about, a sister (I had miscarried a daughter late in a pregnancy and it had been heartbreaking for her). Within two weeks of that bedtime "realization" we were in the process of adopting twin daughters...and by her birthday that Spring she was a "sissie".

So...I think the voice of God is different for each of us...it all depends on what we have opened our hearts to the possibility of....

At 4/03/2007 11:30:00 AM, Anonymous Emily said...

It's not a voice per se for me, but my own thoughts will suddenly take on a conversational tone. Like the other day, I was talking to someone -- just making small talk while we were working on something together -- and she suddenly responded with this very chilly tone and then sent me off to do another task on the other side of the room. I had the sense that maybe she didn't approve of my appearance or my lifestyle.

I prayed to know what to say or do next. When the answer came to thought, it wasn't in the first person, like "I should do this," or "I should say that," or "I should just let this go." Instead, it was in the second person: "You are My child, and you reflect Me. Your individuality is part of My creation, and you don't ever have to apologize for it. You just keep expressing who you are and let Me worry about her."

Sometimes I'll ask a followup question, and this mental conversation will continue until I've learned whatever it was I needed to learn from the situation. I find this kind of dialogue very reassuring.

At 4/03/2007 12:48:00 PM, Blogger Kate said...

Okay...now for how I hear God's voice...I guess I really didn't answer from my own experience before...so here is a VERY recent example...I finished posting the above comment, pulled on my running shorts and shoes and headed out the door on this beautiful Spring day...cool breeze, warm sun, birds chirping. Once I have written in the morning and done some inspirational study, I forward my office phone to my cell phone and I'm off. Today I headed off down my ususal path through the park (the route I take every day!) when about halfway through my course (about 3 miles from home) the song by James Taylor "Home by Another Way" started playing in my head (no ipod or headphone for me when I am working "on hoof") so I listened...

and I took the next "another way" turn which sent me back in the direction of our neighborhood. I thought, hmmm...I guess I'll just run through the neighborhood and to "the loop" (a favorite area of our college neighborhood with coffeehouses, restaurants, theatres, etc.)but as I came within about three blocks of our house a storm that had seemed quite far away...was suddenly on top of me...high winds, heavy rain, greenish-charcoal gray clouds...I sprinted the three blocks and up the stairs and I was home...

If I had taken my normal EVERY other day (and I am out there EVERY day humanly possible) I would have been about 4 miles from home when that storm hit....

God's voice for me is OFTEN a song...and not always hymns and "sacred" music...sometimes it's just a great song from the radio...with a message that speaks to me at that moment....

At 4/03/2007 07:05:00 PM, Anonymous Heather said...

My last experience is more like an 'impression.' I've been having some debates with friends, in one of those classic, "I-must-prove-I'm-brilliantly-right-and-make-everyone-change-and-agree-with-me!" moments. I was reading this book on my lunchhour to find evidence for my viewpoint (and thus not really enjoying the book).

Suddenly, I had this split-second 'impression,' like I was seeing everything from above. There weren't any 'words,' but I knew what the impression was saying. I could put the impression into words, and what it was saying is that human knowledge and facts don't change what Is. That's never affected and is constant, so even if I prove myself right, I'm not changing what Is, I'm changing something temporal.

It was both odd and neat. :) Most of my encounters with God's voice have been like that, in I get this impression that's beyond words, but I can put what it's conveying into words.

At 4/03/2007 11:59:00 PM, Anonymous rev. Veronika said...

This is what came to me one day when I was still and listened:

Silence is precious because
it leaves room for My Voice to be heard.
It leaves space for the truth.
It is the healing of the mind
to clear it of private thoughts
to become a shining mirror to reflect God’s Thoughts.
Be still and know that God is All-in-all.

At 4/04/2007 08:28:00 AM, Anonymous Dennis R. (BigRaff) said...

Those are all good ideas. Another way God can speak to us is through Scripture. As one is reading, all of a sudden, one gets an "aha" moment. Some new insight is revealed. A passage comes alive with meaning.

This can even happen reading other material such as novel. Sometimes something said in the story speaks to you.

As we are open, it is amazing how God speaks to us.


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