My sheep hear My voice and I know them, and they follow Me.
- John 10:27 NKJV
One night a few years ago, my son John began experiencing such severe abdominal pain that my husband and I had to take him to the hospital. Almost as soon as we arrived at the emergency room, things began happening much too fast. A parade of doctors and nurses examined John, and before we knew it, a surgeon was being called in. It was recommended that my son not be allowed to go home that night, but that he be admitted to the hospital for further treatment. In the middle of all the activity and noise, I got quiet in my spirit and pleaded with the Lord to show me what to do. I literally tuned out all the voices around me and focused my mind and heart on hearing God's "still, small voice." After making a decision, I approached my husband and convinced him to help me get our son out of there as quickly as possible. The doctors and nurses shook their heads and gave us stern warnings. Even so, we signed the necessary papers to get John released, and to give up our rights to hold the hospital responsible if he was harmed as a result. And we took our son home.
After praying and seeking God, I began to believe that John was experiencing a drug reaction from the medicine our doctor had given him days before for an infection. The day after the hospital incident, I called our family doctor (who was not available the night before) and I told him what had transpired. He confirmed that I handled the situation perfectly, and that it was likely that John's medicine was in fact the problem. When word got around to our family and friends about the incident, some of them chastised me for taking John out of the hospital against the staff's advice, and for taking risks with my son's welfare. After doing some soul-searching, I decided to trust that I had heard from God when I initially sought His guidance in the matter. Once John was off the offending drug, his health began to improve dramatically, and we praised and thanked God for His faithfulness.
The longer I walk with the Lord, the more I realize how much He wants us to be able to hear and heed His voice. Jesus said, "My sheep hear My voice and I know them, and they follow Me." (John 10:27 NKJV) But I've also noticed that sometimes my circumstances, past experiences, or other people can speak louder to me than God does. That's why it's so important for us to make an effort to avoid the things that can hinder our hearing from the Lord. And that's why it's essential for us to have a "right heart" before God at all times. Bitterness, anger and resentment will make it difficult for us to tune in to God's voice. So will unconfessed sin. One thing that helps me to stay right with God is the fear that I won't be able to receive His perfect wisdom and guidance when my loved ones and I are in a crisis situation. It's just not worth it for me to harbor ill-feelings toward anyone, or to stubbornly remain unrepentant when I sin. Another way we can hinder our communication with God is to live a constantly busy and hurried lifestyle. It's true that we don't always have to get alone and quiet before God in order to hear from Him. But it's also true that there are some distinct advantages to doing that, because when we're communing with the Lord "on the run," WE will do most of the talking. Because God usually speaks to us in a "gentle whisper," (1 Kings 19:12 NIV) it's important for us to continually sharpen our listening skills in a spiritual sense. We can do that by seeking the Lord daily in prayer and Bible reading. Renewing our minds with the truth of God's Word will make us more sensitive to His voice, and more resistant to Satan's deceptions. Also, we must EXPECT God to speak to us and BELIEVE that we can hear from Him, thereby exercising our faith to be led by His Spirit. Everyday, I declare, "I hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and I do follow Him." As I stand on this promise and seek Him daily, I gain the confidence I need to receive His guidance by faith. Hearing from God is not mysterious or spooky--it's Scriptural. And it's necessary, if we're going to fulfill our God-given purpose in this life. Today, trust that the Lord wants to speak to your heart, and say to Him--as Samuel did--"Speak, Lord, Your servant is listening!" (1 Samuel 3:9)
Prayer: Lord, teach me how to tune in to Your voice, and to tune out the voices that are not of You. Show me how to maintain a right heart before You always. Help me to do my part in nurturing a more intimate relationship with You so that I can become more sensitive to Your voice. Thank You for giving me the confidence I need to hear and follow You!
- J. M. Farro