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    Hearing God’s Voice

    Can you hear his gentle whisper? February 15, 2022 by Major Seth Le Leu
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    It is very encouraging to read Bible stories, as I find it so easy to identify with some of the people in the Bible. One person that stands out for me is Elijah. He is this amazing prophet with an incredible ministry.

    The high point of Elijah’s career came when he had a showdown with the prophets of Baal and won (see 1 Kings 18). God moved in a supernatural way, sending fire from heaven. The end result was that afterwards all the prophets of Baal were executed. The drought that had been inflicting all of Israel was broken and Elijah should have been riding with the king in triumph. But a death threat from Queen Jezebel undid everything. Instead of leading a great revival in Israel, Elijah panics and runs away. All the amazing confirmations of God using him evaporate in an instant, and Elijah goes from mighty conqueror to frightened refugee, hiding in a cave in the desert.

    Spiritual Bungee Cord

    It is not by chance that Elijah is included in Scripture; his life illustrates to us that God uses inconsistent people—Elijah, David, Samson, Peter, Thomas—the list is extensive. This encourages me. I am not a Steady Eddy; there are times when I seem close to God and he has used me in special ways, but often the Christian walk is more like a bungee cord. Sometimes it is amazing, other times we can touch the depths, and the rest of the time we can bounce from highs to lows. If this resonates with you, then we are the same, and both of us are a bit like Elijah—but God consistently uses inconsistent people.

    If The Salvation Army is to be an Army fit for the 21st century, it needs to be led by ordinary, inconsistent people like you and me, who consistently put on their spiritual noise-cancelling headphones so they can hear the voice of God.

    The key lesson in this story is what we do when we are at the end of the spiritual bungee cord, when we feel a bit like Elijah in the cave on Mount Horeb (see 1 Kings 19). In fact, what we do in times of extremity is the defining expression of being a follower of Jesus Christ.

    As Elijah stands in the cave on Mount Horeb, “Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:11-12).

    A Quiet Voice

    When the gentle whisper came, the spirit of Elijah stirred. This was the moment of the word of the Lord. The Bible says: “When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave” (1 Kings 19:13). When we are in the storms that can surround us, or times when the earth seems to shake—or, in fact, may actually shake—or the fire can seem to threaten are we able to have the ears to hear the gentle whisper that is the voice of God?

    Jesus says in John 10:2-4: “The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.”

    The greatest danger for us is not a huge fall into depravity, it is distraction.

    The image here is of the shepherd and the sheep. The verb tense here is important: it is the present tense. It doesn’t say he sometimes calls us, or he has called us. It is a present continuous state: “He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” This is what he does all the time for all his sheep.

    Fine-Tuning Our Hearing

    If he is our shepherd, then we will recognize his voice. But there is a condition: we need to wear our noise-cancelling headphones—and I am not talking about the electronic gadgets travellers use when they travel. The key principle of the shepherd is that he speaks to his sheep and guides them. The greatest danger for us is not a huge fall into depravity, it is distraction. All the noise around us can hide the voice of God.

    Sometimes, like Elijah, we just need to get out of the tumult of our daily lives and get to a quiet place in order to hear the voice of God. When we are quiet, receptive and listening for him, then when our spirit stirs with his voice, we are back on track to the next adventure with God.

    The greatest danger for us is not a huge fall into depravity, it is distraction.

    Consistently Inconsistent People

    If The Salvation Army is to be an Army fit for the 21st century, it needs to be led by ordinary, inconsistent people like you and me, who consistently put on their spiritual noise-cancelling headphones so they can hear the voice of God. There is a consistent babble of spiritual gossip around us. Some of it might be OK, other stuff can derail us. But if in the centre of your being there is a deep desire to hear the word of the Lord, you will know when he speaks because deep in your spirit there is a pause, a sense of awe and a reassuring sense that the Shepherd is still speaking to you.

    There is nothing new in the Christian walk; it has been the same for men and women of God from ancient times. The path to hearing the voice of God is an ancient, well-worn path. An earlier traveller pointed it out to you and me when he recounted the words of the Lord: “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

    Reprinted from WarCry (New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa Territory).

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