The Still, Small Voice

Surgery awaited my father-in-law, which weighed heavily on my mother-in-law. As the day of the operation drew nearer, her worry and concern grew stronger. Then came to her a voice with a question as resounding as if uttered aloud, “Don’t you trust me, Eva?” The voice was gentle, an invitation to believe in the character and power of the One who spoke it. The voice was clear and memorable, like those we receive through our natural senses. The voice was enough—Mom rested from fear and trusted in God.

God delights in speaking to us. “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”1 We hear God through Scripture, of course, and in fact, we experience God when His Spirit ignites His Word in our soul. Yet He also nudges us through other workings of His Holy Spirit in us, sometimes as an inaudible “still, small voice”2 inside. People describe it as a thought that comes not through us, but to us—different than our own thought and thought direction, and true. A friend once likened it to “an ‘intersecting thought’ that comes to me from a seemingly different direction; it interrupts my thought process and redirects me in a new way—God’s way.” Another depicted it as “a thought weightier than my own—clear, distinct, and weightier.”

Yet we all know that we’re fully capable of reading “God’s will” into our desires, which can send us down the deceptive path of self-will. This is why mature believers “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”3 Said one man to me, “I test a thought against what I know from the Bible: ‘Is it contradictory, or is it aligned?’ God’s voice will always be completely consistent with God’s Word, character, plan, purpose, and glory.” It is also helpful at times to seek insight from our Biblically grounded and trustworthy brothers or sisters in Christ, not for them to make decisions for us, but to speak truth and wisdom for our prayerful consideration.

Jesus said it was for our good that He return to the Father and send us the Holy Spirit. 4 “He lives with you and will be in you,”5 He assured His friends. “He will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears.”6 In turn then, we quiet the voices of fear and doubt and listen for His words of authority and truth. For He who loves you lives in you, and He speaks. We can trust Him.

Father, how humbling the thought that You would speak to me. How great Your love must be! Calm me, that I would listen for Your voice; speak that I would hear You. I trust you. In Christ I pray. Amen.

1 Jeremiah 33:3
2 1 Kings 19:12 KJV
3 2 Corinthians 10:5
4 John 16:7
5 John 14:17
6 John 16:13


This Is the Way; Walk in It

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

In hospice care and with only a few days remaining, our elderly friend was nearing the end of his battle with cancer, so we went to see him for what we knew would be the last time. Our visit with Bill and his wife Betty was tender and warm, though Bill’s energy had dwindled—when he did speak, it was only a whisper. At some point that afternoon, this thought silently, but certainly, came to me: “You and Betty will step away for a time, and Peggy will share the gospel with Bill.” I hadn’t experienced anything quite like this before, but the notion was so clear that I accepted it, waited, and watched. It wasn’t long before Betty said, “I need to go to the house to feed and walk the dog.” There it was, my cue! “Would you like me to drive you, Betty?” I asked. “Yes, I would like that.”

Now with only Bill and Peggy in the room, God continued to work. It was actually Bill who initiated the spiritual conversation! “I wish I knew if I was going up or down,” he said quietly, referring, of course, to heaven or hell. “You can know for sure,” Peggy said, and she proceeded to share in simple terms that eternal life is freely given to us when we receive it, trusting in Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf and asking forgiveness for our sins. “Is this what you want?” she asked. “Yes,” he replied. They prayed together, and when they finished, Bill whispered to Peggy, “Tell Betty what I did.” Bill dies two days later. May he rest in peace; may he leap in joy.

God is working all around us all the time. So, why did He choose this moment to announce His plan to one person and then do it through others? I have no idea. Perhaps it was to clear the room for the sharing of His lifegiving gospel message and the gathering of one precious soul, or maybe it was so this story could be told for God’s glory and our hope. Certainly the entire moment exclaimed relationship!, for it was an honor to be part of it, even if my role was just to get out of the way.

Job’s friend Elihu once counseled him, “God does speak—now one way, now another— though no one perceives it.”1 I think he was partially right: God does speak, and He speaks in different ways. But can we perceive it? Yes, we can: we perceive His voice as He wills. So, draw near to Him, quiet yourself before Him, and listen for the voice that says, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Father, thank You for loving us so much that You speak to us. Quiet our soul, that we would be content to wait and ready to hear. In Christ we pray. Amen.

1 Job 33:14


As One Speaks to a Friend

“The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.”— Exodus 33:11

Who is the one person in your life you can talk with more freely and openly than anyone else? What is it about this person that makes it so? Is it their compassion, relatability, or listening skills? Are they encouraging, insightful, and honest in response? Or perhaps he or she also knows when just to be with you and to say nothing at all. Whatever their helpful character traits, I’m guessing he or she is a friend—perhaps a relative or a spouse, but foremost a friend. Likewise, I think hearing God through prayer starts at friendship.

God is our friend. It is striking, how often Jesus called people, “friend.” To the healed paralytic: “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”1 To the many thousands gathered to hear him: “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid . . .”2 In His parting words to His disciples, Jesus said, “You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants . . .  Instead, I have called you friends.”3 Even to Judas as he betrayed Him, Jesus said, “Do what you came for, friend.”4 And as friends eagerly welcome conversation and delight in it, so it is that God invites us, His people, into prayer: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”5

Our friend is God. This One who calls us friends is also He who calls Himself, “I AM.” He is just, so His responses are right, and He is spirit, so He speaks to our soul. So, perhaps like Paul you have presented your requests to God through prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, and experienced in silent reply “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding.”6 Maybe with fellow believers you have pursued God’s will in a matter through prayer and, like the early church leaders, sensed a resolution that “seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.”7 It was while Peter was in prayer that God prepared him—both through a vision and then specific directions—to share the gospel with the Gentiles.8 God is love; He will answer as one speaks to a friend. God is sovereign, so He speaks with power, authority, and always as He wills. Then no matter how He chooses to reply, ours is to trust, to wait, and to listen for our friend, our God.

“I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.9 Speak, for your servant is listening.” 10 Amen.

1 Luke 5:20
2 Luke 12:4
3 John 15:14-15
4 Matthew 26:50
5 Jeremiah 33:3
6 Philippians 4:6-7
7 Acts 15:27
8 Acts 10:9-23
9 Psalm 17:6
10 1 Samuel 3:10