People who listen to God seem to have two evident qualities. They have a humility that was birthed in their own pain and neediness. They have a perseverance that was birthed in trusting a strength drawn from God. This admixture of humility and perseverance begins in neediness and ends in strength. They seek God’s comfort and guidance amidst the questions and troubles of life, and they receive courage from God as they move forward towards the destination to which their passion compels them. They develop a willingness to look foolish in their courage to press forward.
These people believe that God desires good for them and has great, unending love for them. They have experienced God’s mercy enough that they can also openly struggle with doubt; they grasp that God can remain loving in their doubt. They can even fear in their faith that God has left them. Even so, these same people hope and listen for God to give comfort, guidance, and strength to their hearts. They hold in their hearts the words of the disciple in I Peter 5:7 that say, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” In other words, they believe that anything that bothers them personally also is a concern of God’s, just like a loving parent.
In as much, then, they all have relationship with God, which means there is an ongoing conversation and expectation of God’s presence being experienced. While they can speak their desires and hopes to God openly, they also spend time listening closely in submitted expectation of hearing God’s voice in their lives.
Here are five ways they listen for God to receive his comfort, guidance, and strength. They believe the following:
God speaks to us in our prayers. Prayer not only is speaking our needs, desires, questions, admiration, and struggles to God, but also, it involves our meditative listening. Prayer speaks our hearts; in listening, we hear the multitude of ways that God cares for us enough to speak words of nurturing and courage. We listen for the heart of God, believing that he cares and wants to tell us about the life we are living, and the life we can live.
God speaks to us through the Scriptures, to speak to us about who he is and who we are to him. Throughout the Scriptures, there is a voice that speaks deeply a love story about who he has created and how he wishes to love whom he has created. The Scriptures also speak the words of life, so that we can live well in a place that presents us with life on life’s terms, which is often tragic in our experience. The Scriptures show us a life of “God with us” and “God in us” to comfort, guide, and strengthen our hearts in a place of significant tragedy.
- Other people
God speaks to us in the voices of others who act as his “hands and feet,” even his voice, to call us to living. Other people can carry hope when we are hopeless, courage to us in our discouragement, and a witness when we have forgotten our own experience of God. They can care when we distrust love and the God who says he loves us. Their voices become our voices as we lean forward into living again.
God speaks to us in our own circumstances, great and small, as we wonder in trust what God may be doing and seek guidance through prayer, Scripture, and other people. Circumstances offer us the opportunity to look about and ask the questions: “Where are you in this situation, God?” and, “What are you doing?” God doesn’t explain as much as God offers opportunity to develop deeper trust, wisdom, and faith, which grows the heart more than the brain.
God is a “lamp unto our feet” as we move forward into the darkness of our futures, moved forward by the inspiration (enlightened by divine influence) that compels us to go. God speaks to the desires of our hearts and even gives them for our own delight, too, as we move towards the fulfillment of desire. What an intimacy there is to imagine and desire possibilities of great things occurring, and those wonderings being from God. The writer in Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” That which we are created to do is shown to us, and the path will be shown to us as we take the inspiration we have been given to light up a place that needs our service of love.
These people believe that God seeks our good, and that God has an indescribable love for us that we will never fully be able to apprehend while we live in a place that is so full of tragedy. Even the theologians cannot find enough words to capture the meaning of this love named, “hesed,” which speaks to the all encompassing, never ending, ineffable love that God has for us. These people know that life, indeed, is tragic, and yet God is faithful with us and to us in the midst of this life. They believe that that we cannot know this faithfulness as well as we could unless we listen well.
They say, also, that God often speaks quietly words of comfort, guidance, and strength in a world of distracting noise. To hear his voice, we must be quiet ourselves to listen well, see intently, and respond with courage, knowing that he is with us. They believe that the early morning before we step into the day is the best time to be still and listen.