To a five-year-old, a birthday is an exciting time. The cake, the gifts, the singing…it’s magical! It was my sixth birthday and as the balloons danced in the wind ready to welcome my friends to my party 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? He is always with us, and He will guide and teach us if we listen for his whispers. What do you think He is teaching you"?
I can only look back now with my adult knowing and surmise that she was teaching me about living in the present and introducing me to my inner voice and the presence from which it came. I remember feeling safe and protected to know that someone watched over me, spoke to me, and would guide me through life. 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 occasion. 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 and the response of affirmation in a burst of joy or excitement at the thought of something. When I'm not sure, 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 there were times that I missed, ignored or simply could not hear the voice through the noise of life. And in the long seasons of deafness, when chaos drowns out all possibility of hearing God, He brought me back to center — and to Him. 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 have come to 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.
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.