God is consistently and constantly communicating to humanity, and humanity must learn how to tune in. God is personal, and reveals Divine thoughts to each soul in a uniquely magnificent way. I am particularly fond of this example in 1 Kings 19:11-12:
“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.
This is one of my favorite illustrations of how God speaks and what God is like. I think the human tendency is to expect God to descend upon us in some great show of Divine magnificence, some unmistakable display of grandiose strength. Yet it has been my experience that it is often quite the opposite. God moves and communicates with gentle poignancy that is packed with power and efficiency so intense that we are changed at our very core. But the thing is, we have to be listening, or we are going to miss it.
In my profession, I am often on the receiving end of questions. One of my pet peeves is when someone asks a question, and then instead of pausing and allowing me to answer, they keep talking. They either re-ask the question in a different way, or tell me what part of the answer they think they already know. I’m on the other end of the line trying desperately to get a word in to give them the answer they require, but they won’t be silent long enough to let me communicate. We do this with God I think; we miss so much Divine interaction that way.
One of the most edifying spiritual disciplines I practice is meditation. For me, it is the most appropriate response to time spent reading the Bible, and time spent speaking words of worship and gratitude and time articulating requests. Meditation allows the truths in Gods Word to soak deep into my spirit, while simultaneously creating space for God to speak wisdom, life, direction, vision and inspiration to my heart.
A.W. Tozer in his work, The Pursuit of God, says this:
“For it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself, and unless and until the hearers find God in personal experience they are not the better for having heard the truth. The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts.”
It is during the still moments that Gods presence is deepest. It is those encounters with Divinity that bring meaning to our very existence. It is only in those moments, when there is nothing and no one else but your soul and the Spirit of God interacting in sweet communion that life makes sense; that anxieties are quieted and longings stilled. To “know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself” is the driving force of my existence.
When God speaks to my spirit during meditation, it is easy for me to quickly dismiss what I have “heard” as interference from my own thoughts. God totally gets this. I am always on the lookout for the creative ways God confirms that what I have experienced is, in fact, Divine communication.
One the most obvious and important ways that God authenticates a whisper is through the Bible. If what I have “heard” is consistent with God’s word, and consonant with God’s character as revealed through scripture, it’s a pretty good indicator that I may have heard correctly. One of my most favorite experiences however, are those super creative Divine synchronicities that could only be crafted by a sovereign God. It goes something like this; I feel God impressing a truth upon my heart that seems to speak directly to an issue in my life. I “sit” with what was whispered to my spirit for a while, pondering it in my heart. I get a phone call from someone I know to be discerning (often it’s from my dad, whom I lovingly refer to as the “Old Prophet”) with a similar message – perhaps just in casual conversation or perhaps more pointedly; then I’ll hear my pastor repeat the message during Sunday morning’s sermon; then I’ll feel compelled to pick up a seemingly random book and there is the same message. Perhaps in my daily Bible reading the pre-selected passage coincides beautifully with everything else. I love it when that happens!
I do not believe that we, as humans, can ever claim to have absolute confidence that what we are experiencing and perceiving to be the voice of the Divine One is in fact so. We can become better at discerning God’s voice the more we practice listening, but following God is an exercise in faith. God’s ways are mysterious and mystical. To be good students of the Divine One we must always be watching, listening and then moving forward in faith, learning through each success and failure how better to hear the Gentle Whisper.
The spiritual discipline of meditation is powerful. I encourage you to cultivate a lifestyle of listening; one that creates time to just sit in the stillness and soak in God’s presence. We need to be amazed by the beauty and majesty of the Almighty God, and it’s been my experience that this happens best when we stop the chatter in our heads, shift our focus off of ourselves an on to God’s majestic beauty, and just listen.