“To this man will I look,
even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit,
and trembleth at my word.” Isaiah 66:2
I remember being a little girl, wondering when I would hear God speak. Would he speak out loud? What if I missed him? What if he asked me to do something really weird and embarrassing as a test of faith—stand up and prophesy Quite Suddenly in the middle of church or something?
My dad said that it took time to learn to recognize his voice.
Learning to hear God is a journey.
As I grew older, I found that people “hear God say things” that don’t come true. I had one single friend tell me that she knew how many children she’d have and what their names were going to be, because God had told her. I had another friend tell me she had felt quite certain God told her something wasn’t going to happen; when it did, she confessed her faith took a serious hit.
I couldn’t understand this, and it worried me. What were they hearing?
Did people understand the words of Jesus when he walked here? I ask you.
He spoke them out loud, with an audible voice and clear pronunciation in the language they knew well. He spoke to crowds of people who could have corroborated the account, and to a few close friends who could have understood him in context. Over and over and over, they got it wrong.
–They thought he was going to set up an immediate kingdom on earth (Acts 1:6-8)–
–They thought he was talking about not bringing any bread (Matt 16:5-12)–
–They thought he said he’d destroy Herod’s Temple and rebuild it in three days (John 2:18-22)–
–They took him to mean that Lazarus was sleeping, not dead (John 11:11-14)–
–They were offended at his talk of eating his flesh and drinking his blood (John 6:51-66)–
–And sometimes he wrapped truth in parables to mix things up, so that only those would understand who were supposed to understand (Mark 4:9-12).
“The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.” (Luke 18:34)
Sometimes God’s voice is misunderstood.
Especially when it tangles with our longings.
How in the world? I thought. How in this world of godly predecessors setting broken track records am I ever going to be sure I hear Him right?