“Did any people ever hear the voice of a god speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and still live?” Deuteronomy 4:33 ESV
When I talk to my sister on the telephone, I hear her voice in my ear.
In my mind, I can still “hear” the voice of my Mother, who left this earth for a much better place over 5 years ago.
Although it would be a frighteningly amazing experience to sit down face to face with God and have a conversation, and actually hear his voice (a concept almost too scary to even dare think about), He still speaks loudly to me through my heart.
These are the ways we ‘hear’ voices, but there is another very important way to ‘hear’ someone’s voice, and that is by reading someone’s words, just as you are hearing my voice now.
“Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.” Proverbs 12:15 NLT
That is not a cleverly disguised way of telling you I think I am wise. It is merely passing on to you the wisdom of God’s Word that teaches us it is a good thing to listen to voices other than our own.
We all do this in one way or another, of course, but are we really listening with our hearts or are we simply absorbing sounds through our ears? When we read the words of another, do we really appreciate what was involved in the creation of the passage we just read? What do we learn about the person who wrote it beyond what the words themselves tell us. What is the ‘voice’ we are ‘hearing’ actually revealing about the person ‘speaking’?
Take the following prayer, for instance. I read it this morning in a blog I follow called, The River Walk:
“God, You have not called us to an easy life. You haven’t called us to a comfortable or simple life. Thank you for that. Easy, comfortable, and simple are far too boring a way to live. You have called us to life more abundant. That means the challenges are going to seem insurmountable, the opposition more immense, and the valleys deeper. But it also means the victories will be that much sweeter and the mountaintops… beyond anything an easy life could have imagined. Give me a higher calling, Lord. Then give me the fortitude to walk it all the way to victory.”
The author, who calls himself “Beejai”, not only shares a well written prayer to God with us, his ‘voice’ also tells us many things about himself: 1) it tells us how deep his faith is; 2) it tells us he is thankful to God, even when facing trials, tribulations, and difficulty; 3) it tells us that we should expect more from ourselves because God has so much to give us; 4) it acknowledges that big rewards come at a higher cost, but it also points us to the source of our strength to deal with that cost; 5) his ‘voice’ also challenges us to ask God for big things, because He is no small God.
Another ‘voice’ I listen to is the voice of a woman whose blog I mentioned here recently called Anorexia Revealed. Her ‘voice’ is articulate, eloquent, and full of a burning desire to use the pain of her battle with Anorexia to point people to the victory which can be won when they allow Christ to help them fight their own battles.
I was reading one of her posts yesterday, and her ‘voice’ – while directed specifically towards those battling Anorexia and other eating disorders – literally shouted a solution for all who are in pain and struggle with any issue, be it drugs, alcohol, sex, shopping, work, or any other life-controlling issue that destroys lives and drives a wedge between people – men and women alike, young and old – and those they love.
One paragraph in particular from the post I read yesterday had this to say: “Jesus loves you so much. He was literally crucified because He loves you so immensely. And He loves you so much that He doesn’t force you to love Him back. And He loves you so much that He wants to take your eating disorder off your hands, so you don’t have to be imprisoned by it anymore.”
As in the case of the prayer from “Beejai”, the voice of the young woman who writes “Anorexia Revealed” speaks loudly about her and what she believes. Anorexia is not the only thing that is ‘revealed.’ We also learn that: 1) it is obvious she is aware of the significance of Jesus’ death and the brutal nature of that death; 2) we can hear her confidence in the love that is available if we will only avail ourselves of it: 3) we can tell that she has laid her burdens at the foot of the Cross, and knows that is where we need to lay ours; 4) we can also tell she has a burning desire to help others and to show them where to go to ease their pain; 5) and we can easily see how she glorifies God and loves to hold Him up for others in order that they may see see how He can change their lives.
These are just a couple of the ‘voices’ I hear. There are many, many more, and I could go on, and on, but I think you all get the idea.
While you may be a very, very wise and learned individual, if yours is the only voice you hear, you are depriving yourself of the wisdom of other children of God, and in doing so you are missing the opportunity to see the grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness of God at work in the world around us.
And that is a pity, for that work is truly beautiful to see.