“Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout…and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts.”
The inner voice. Probably one of the more intriguing ways to hear God. Certainly, difficult to discern. But perhaps what we think of first when we consider “hearing God’s voice.”
The Bible refers to it many ways:
revealed by the Spirit
moved by the Spirit
led by the Spirit
walking in the Spirit
a gentle whisper or still small voice
deep calling to deep
People (even non-believers) call it many different things, too:
red light, green light, yellow light
What is that inner voice, and what does it sound like? Well, for me it sort of sounds like buzzers, bells and crickets. (Yes, I know this is strange. No, there are no buzzers, bells or crickets in Scripture. Well, maybe crickets. No, wait. LOCUSTS. I never hear locusts, though. It’s definitely crickets.)
Buzzers: Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a little inner buzzer in me telling me when I need to stop, shut my mouth, retreat, resist, reject or remove myself from a situation. (Think game-show kind of buzzer here) And for a big chunk of my life, I ignored that buzzer. I would say what I felt, go where I pleased and watch what I liked with little regard to the small, uncomfortable feeling I had just prior to my actions. It was usually subtle enough to proceed right through it…and proceed, I did.
Then one day, I heard a minister preaching on that little inner alarm, and how important it was to obey it, because it was God’s voice.
God’s voice? Really? It never really occured to me that the little buzzer could be God leading me anywhere. I’m not really sure what I thought it was, but I never thought it was God.
So I started paying closer attention. And sure enough, I heard that little irritating buzzer every time I was about to sin or enter into a potentially harmful situation. For me, my biggest obstical is my mouth, so I began noticing that darn buzzer almost every time I spoke! When I was about to share something unkind about another person. (Buzz!) When I wanted to vent a frustration about my marriage. (Buzz!) When I wanted to use my sharp wit to tear my husband down during a disagreement. (Buzz!) When I wanted to participate in office gossip. (Buzz!)
After that, I started paying closer attention. And talking a lot less.
Bells: As clearly as I hear a disturbing little inner buzzer, I hear bells. That’s right. This little “ding, ding, ding” in my gut that tells me I’m right on the money (also game-show like: The actual retail price is…ding ding ding!!!!).
Early in my walk with God, I was afraid to make any decision about anything until I took the time to pray about it (partly due to immaturity and partly due to some bad teaching). That sounds spiritual enough, doesn’t it? But I found myself unable to make simple parenting decisions (without consulting 4 books and 10 other moms), say no when people asked me to participate in anything (even things I knew I didn’t have time for), or decide how to spend my free time (Should I shop? Or read? Or clean? Or call a friend?).
Then I realized that most of the time, my first inclination toward what I felt to be the right thing was usually what God confirmed to me later in prayer. I discovered that because I had the Spirit of the Living God within me, and because I spent time daily in His word and in prayer, and because I sincerely tried to acknowledge Him in all I do, He was actually able to speak to me in “real time.” He was constantly communicating with me throughout the day, leading me with this small inner ding, ding, ding.
I am not saying that we shouldn’t take time to pray about matters. Especially big, important matters. And especially when we are uncertain about the direction. And especially, especially when we aren’t actively pursuing God in prayer and Bible reading. What I am saying, is that the more you learn to recognize and obey the inner buzzers and bells, the more you will see that God is leading you and speaking to you constantly thoughout the day. A lot of times, because you are in continual communion with Him, you will not need to pull away for a major fasting and prayer session. In fact, you will find that a lot of times, God needs you to do something NOW, which doesn’t allow you the luxury of a long, private prayer meeting. Following the ding allows God to use you more often. I think that is what the Bible refers to as “walking in the Spirit.” And it’s very cool.
Crickets: Sometimes I don’t hear buzzers or bells. Sometimes I hear crickets. Not literal crickets…but that cricket sound used to demonstrate silence. Do you know what I’m talking about? Can you tell I watched a lot of TV as a kid?
There are times when I’m presented with opportunities or ideas, but when I try to quickly consult my inner voice…I get….nothing!
I’ve learned that the crickets are God’s way of telling me to seek Him more deeply for futher guidance, revelation or direction. These are the times I need to say, “Let me get back to you on that.” These are the times that I need to search the Word, call a godly friend or spend some extended time in prayer. These are often times I need to go on a fast. (Did I mention that the crickets are not fun?)
Whatever the situation, I’ve learned that when God sends me the crickets, I need to refrain from making any decision until I know that I know God said it’s OK.
So, what does the inner voice sound like to you? You may not hear buzzers, bells and crickets, but I guarantee that you hear or feel something, deep down inside. One of the many signs of spiritual maturity is the ability to discern the voice of God speaking to you. I don’t know about you, but I sure have a long way to go. But, take heart. There is hope for us!
Hebrews 5:14 says,”But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
I love that verse because it says that we can train ourselves to distinguish good from evil by “constant use.” Basically, the more we practice hearing God, the better we will be able to hear Him.