The Other Side of Hearing God

I was curious. A missionary friend had returned to the U.S. for a welcome respite, so I asked him how he in his vocation seeks and hears God. “Being able to discern the Spirit’s input starts with submission,” he began, “I think it’s very easy for us, myself included, to want to hold onto my own plans and say, ‘OK Spirit do what you want to do in my life that backs up what I already want to do,’ rather than saying, ‘You have my whole life, Spirit, what should I do today? What should I do in the next hour?’” My friend spoke as one who had come to realize that, while we seek the guidance of God’s voice, He seeks our obedience to His voice. It is the other side of hearing God—now that He has spoken, how will we respond?

To God, there is no separation between faith and obedience: the latter is an element of the former—“the obedience of faith,”1 the apostle Paul called it. In other words, the soul who knows it is loved to the point of sacrifice, that its most sinful slate is wiped clean, and that it is indwelled by the God who created it—this soul gratefully surrenders its will to God’s plan, obeying Him with a divine blend of deep humility and great joy. It is how at the angel’s command, Philip ran up to the Ethiopian official’s chariot, shunning any thought of personal embarrassment.2 It is how Ananias obeyed a vision and ministered to Saul, that zealous persecutor of the church, despite the obvious danger in doing so.3 It is how at the Spirit’s moving, Emily’s former lab partner reached out to her with specific and relevant words of encouragement, despite knowing nothing of her distress, risking rejection and ridicule through his obedience.4 These and so many faithful ones like them are the blessed ones who not only call Jesus, “Lord, Lord,” 5 but also do what He says. Their faithfulness inspires us to be true; their “Yes” summons our own.

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts,”6 penned the author of the Hebrews epistle. As my missionary friend said, it begins with submission. We seek His voice; He seeks our obedience—the other side of hearing God.

“Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”7—Jesus, to His followers.

Father, You know how I seek Your voice and direction. Help me, in turn, to be faithful to You when You speak. Grace me with the heart to live today in the obedience of faith. In Christ I pray. Amen.

1 Romans 1:5 ESV; Romans 16:26 ESV
2 Acts 8:26-40
3 Acts 9:10-19
4 Read this brief story in our September 8, 2021 post: “Of People, Circumstances and Timing.
5 See Luke 6:46
6 Hebrews 3:15
7 Luke 11:28

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