To a five-year-old, a birthday is an exciting time. The cake, the gifts, the singing…it’s magical! It was turning six, and as the balloons danced in the wind ready to welcome my friends I stared out the window and thought to myself — you will never be five again. Ever.
I recall sharing my experience with my mom, to which she responded, “That’s right, you cannot go back, only forward. Maybe God is telling you something? What do you think He is saying?”
She was not a religious person and refused to bring us to church, but she often guided us to be curious about God and his nature. I remember how His name made me feel safe and her question made me aware for the first time that He was close enough for me to talk to Him. I wanted to listen. And so it was, in a tender moment at the age of five — almost six, I set off on a journey to learn how to hear God speak.
Five decades have now passed, and I have experienced the inner voice, the whisper, nudge or inclination on many, many occasions. I’ve become attuned to it by being quiet and by seeking the familiar of my body’s internal reaction: the voice of contradiction spoken in the pause of hesitation, affirmation experienced in a burst of joy, and the need to explore deeper thought revealed by tears welling in my eyes. When I am unsure, I seek clarity by asking and then testing. If I have strong affirming and/or opposing thoughts, I investigate and immerse myself in deeper questioning or learning while actively listening for my body and mind’s response along the way. This is how I talk to my maker and He to me.
However, I admit sometimes I missed, ignored or simply could not hear the voice through the noise of life. And in the long seasons of deafness, when chaos drowned out all possibility of hearing God, He brought me back to center — and to Him. It was then, that He sent storms, earthquakes and thunder, and life that rocked the ground from under me. It was then, in the calm after the storm when I was weak and once again quiet, that I turned to Him - and the familiar whispers reappeared.
Standing back and looking at the seasons of my life I believe the still small voice and the speaking through thunder and earthquake are the differing voices of God; one of grace and one of law. The whisper is the voice of love, mercy, pardon, and the gift of free will. The law is the command; it shakes our consciences, crumbles our world, breaks our hearts, and brings us back to humility and him.
Although I prefer the whispers, I appreciate the thunder as it holds me accountable. I believe it is less important how God speaks to us than what we do with what He says. The more we learn how to hear and feel His presence, the more ready we will be to recognize His voice when He speaks….especially when He whispers.