March 25, 2012
A still small voice cries out to me. I can’t tell you what it says to me. All I can say is that I can hear it. Do you hear it? If you do, what is it saying to you? If you don’t hear it, you must listen more closely, it is there. Quiet yourself, opening to God, willing to hear the voice.
In the movie “City Slickers” Jack Palance plays the tough-as–leather trail boss whose many years in the saddle have given him great wisdom. He takes up a mentoring relationship towards Billy Crystal’s character who is an insecure, smart-mouthed New Yorker. Billy Crystal asks the trail boss the meaning of life in one of their quiet moments together, and Jack Palance holds up one finger. He tells Billy Crystal that the meaning of life is one thing, but you have to figure out what that one thing is for yourself.
Talking with God is often like a conversation with an old cowboy. God doesn’t always give us the answers we want. God often leads us to find the answers for ourselves. Hearing the still small voice, receiving a sign, having God speak to us can all be formative experiences if we respond to them in faith. However, they are rarely in billboard or text-message form. Even if we are 100% confident of God’s meaning, trying to communicate that spiritual knowledge to someone else in a way that would be meaningful to them can seem impossible. That is because God speaks to us in our own unique language. A sign that to us is unmistakable might be incomprehensible to another person. A voice speaking, prodding, and leading can be for us spiritually meaningful – even loud, while the same message to another might be meaningless.
One thing is certain, the more we listen to God, the more we open ourselves and try to hear without always dominating the conversation, the more easily we will hear. God wants to speak to us as gently as possible. It is when we ignore the gentle conversation that God has to use more forceful tactics to get us to listen. God doesn’t strive to punish. God’s goal is to communicate. But just as we sometimes have to yell to be heard by others who are loud or preoccupied, God has to yell sometimes to get our attention. What if we just gave God our attention? What if we spent time in prayer listening? What if we sought counsel and guidance from the one who is greater, wiser, and more loving than anyone else we know? That still small voice comes in love.