Sometimes life is noisy, isn’t it? There are often times when the noise of life is just plain loud.
Loud noise in life sounds like stressful situations; job loss, financial shortcomings, relationship struggles, issues with adult “children”, divorce, moving, trauma and so on. Sometimes, the noise of life is all we can hear. It’s easy to hear only the noise when it speaks so loudly in our ears. But what’s challenging is to hear the voice of God in our hearts when the pressures and noise of life is so loud. In those difficult situations in life, when we most need God’s help and direction, His voice is often quieter than the noise. So how do we hear it over all the loud?
Where I live it, is often windy, like a lot windy. And when the weather is warmer, I like to get out hiking. Hiking in the wind is not difficult, in fact I am often grateful for the breeze as it keeps me cooler as I go along. However, when I am hiking with someone, having conversation can be tricky. The wind can make it difficult to hear each other well enough to effectively communicate. Try as we might, conversing in the wind is difficult. The best way to hear someone’s voice when there is loud noise all around, is to lean in when they speak.
As I have grown in my faith and in my relationship with God, I have tried to get closer to Him, I desire to hear Him speak into my life more clearly. It isn’t always easy. There are times when life is so difficult and loud, that all I seem to be able to hear is the noise. I imagine that you can relate.
In the book of 1 Kings, we come across a curious but understandable (from a human perspective) situation for the prophet Elijah. Elijah has just defeated the prophets of Baal. This is an amazing and true story of God showing His almighty power and authority! (read 1 Kings 18:20-40) Next, Elijah’s life is threatened by Jezebel, and she was no one to be trifled with! She was the wife of king Ahab (a truly wicked king) and is well known in scripture for being a wicked woman herself. Elijah had good reason to be worried when she promised that within 24 hours she was going to kill him. This was no idle threat.
Elijah flees to Judah, heads into the wilderness alone, and prays to God that he might die. This seems pretty desperate, right? He tells God, “I have had enough”. But the angel of the Lord comes to him, feeds him, and instructs him to head out on a journey. Elijah obeys God and heads out on this journey that lasts 40 days and 40 nights. Here, he comes to a cave and spends the night. And we pick it up in verse 9, where God says to Elijah “what are you doing here?” I can almost imagine Elijah rolling his eyes! “OBVIOUSLY, I am hiding from Jezebel! This is all too much for me to handle!”
1 Kings 19:11-12 says this, “The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by. Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord (noisy), but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake (noisy), but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire (noisy), but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” The implication here is that God was speaking through the whisper!
So many times, all we hear in life is the noise. We assume that God is speaking to us in the noise. But the example here is that after the noise, there was a gentle whisper. I think that maybe Elijah was more in tune to hear the whisper of God because the noise of the wind, the earthquake and the fire had been so loud. In the quiet that followed, he was able to hear the voice that the noise had made impossible.
Difficult and stressful situations in life can be noisy. All consuming. Loud. But if we pause and lean in, often the gentle whisper of God follows.
And it is in those times, when we pause the noise and listen, that we receive the leading and direction from God that we are truly desiring.
In my life there have been many times with so much noise. I have been confused, hurt, distraught and lost, not knowing what to do with all that was troubling me. I can resonate with Elijah when he told God that he had had enough. Maybe you can too.
Have you ever “heard” the voice of God? I have. For me, it was not audible, but I heard it none the less. It came in as a gentle stirring in my soul and grew to be surer and clearer as I continued to lean in and listen for it. I found that the more time I spent in the word, and in prayer, the closer I drew to Him, and the more confident I was that the stirring voice in my heart was in fact, from God. Sometimes as Christians, we say things like “God told me…” or “God confirmed in my heart…” and it can sound a bit odd to those outside the faith. Sometimes it even sounds odd to our fellow believers who have yet to experience it. But don’t let that stop you from listening. Knowing that you have heard God clearly on an issue, brings so much peace and purpose. For me, it has brought into my life the drive and forward motion I have needed. Even when what I was seeing in front of me made me question going forward on the path.
The example of Jesus is clear for us in scripture. Jesus got alone with God often and spent some time in prayer. He was listening. He very much needed to hear from His heavenly father.
Just after feeding the 5000 in Matthew 14, we see Jesus needing some alone time. Verse 23 tells us, “After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone.” I almost get the sense that Jesus lost rack of time as He was with the Father. I am certain that His time with His Father was something that He needed, desired and prioritized. I don’t think Jesus had to write “do devotions” on his daily to-do list. I doubt that Jesus had to discipline Himself to make that time. His time with the Father was something He looked forward to. And if the son of man needed time with the Father, so do you and I.
Spending time with God through reading my bible and praying is part of my (almost) daily routine. In the last year I have become very intentional about that, and I have grown so much because of it. This past week I did something new though. I took my Bible, a notebook and Bible study that I am working my way through, and I went to the park. I found a quiet picnic bench and spread out my things. It was a warm evening, and the breeze was perfect. And in the hour or so that I spent there, I heard from God. It was so good for me to take the time away from home, to really focus. There were no chores calling my name there at the park. It was different and refreshing in a way that I didn’t fully anticipate!
I encourage you to take some time alone, to get away with God, and really listen. He won’t disappoint you. He has so much He wants to share with you, but He won’t force it on you. If you will make the time, you will likely hear Him whisper to your heart the very peace, purpose and direction that you need. You don’t have to leave home to do it but finding a quiet place or time alone will surely make a difference. Get away from the noise of life, the pressures and to-do lists. Be intentional about it and He will meet you there. Jeremiah 29:13 makes it plain, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” He desires to be found by us.
Are you wrestling within your soul over something? Are you facing a difficult time and are unsure of God’s leading there? Maybe things are pretty peaceful for you, and you wonder what God has next for you. Whatever the situation, get away with God, and listen for His whisper. He’s ready, He desires for you to hear Him, and He has the answer you want.
Lord, my prayer is simple today. I want to know you more. Show me and give me a pocket of time soon where I can meet with you. Help me to prioritize some time with you so that I can hear your gentle whisper away from the noise of life. Help me to see it and to seize it when it comes. Amen.