Hearing Voices

Saturday night, I was at about the last place in the world I wanted to be. This aged spinster had gotten roped into attending a Valentine Banquet at my parents’ church. And while that might seem like a pretty fun thing, the last time I went, I ended up doing a really horrible waltz with an eighty-something partner. It scarred me badly enough that I swore I’d never do that again. But then my Dad called and I found myself saying yes.

Thankfully, this Valentine Banquet was much more sedate than the previous one I had attended. I hid in a corner with Mama and Grandma Ruby. And in our lack of wisdom about where we hid, we ended up in front of a speaker, through which a “DJ” with a Mac computer and a microphone played a couple of hours of fairly mellow background music. (I’m still reeling from the disbelief of hearing Margaritaville played in my parents’ church’s fellowship hall.)

Sitting in front of a speaker is never a good idea when you’re planning to spend a couple of hours chatting over a nice meal. Especially since I’m a bit hard of hearing when there is background noise. Honestly, I didn’t hear a word that Grandma Ruby said the whole night, except on the occasion that I could manage to read her lips. (I’m not so good at lip-reading, either.)

But I was a little amazed that throughout the whole loud evening, I managed to hear every single word that my Mom said, even though she really wasn’t shouting that loudly. I wondered about it and the reasoning quickly came to me. My mother and I have been a part of one another for so long, that I know her voice. My ear is instinctively tuned to it. I can be blindfolded in a crowd and hear my mother’s voice – or even her laugh or her cough – and I’ll immediately recognize it.

It’s that way with God, too.

Jesus said, “My sheep know my voice. They recognize it and they follow it.” (John 10:27, paraphrased)

I know I have some unchurched readers and so I want to say this in a way that’s as un-looney as possible. But I hear God. I’ve never heard an audible voice like we’ve seen in the movies. (Ten Commandments and Bruce Almighty come to mind.) But I often ask God questions and then instinctively know the answers, clearly, deep in my soul.

It’s rare that I ask God a direct question and don’t get an answer. But often, I am so afraid of the answer, that I don’t ask. And even worse, sometimes I ask and then refuse to act on the answer.

In this week’s chapter of Kisses from Katie, Katie talks about simply saying yes to God. We like to think that life is really complicated. But so much of it is just as simple as asking God the important questions and then just saying yes to Him.

Katie says, “I was in no way qualified, but I was available.”

I like what Nicole C. Mullin said several years ago, “God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called.”

I promise you that I was in no way qualified to work on a construction team in Mexico, but when I picked up the shovel, it worked. I had no experience doing eye exams and building custom eyeglasses. But in Honduras, Argentina, and Congo, I did it. I’m not trained at all as a pharmacist. I wasn’t good at science or math in school. But in Congo, the Dominican Republic, and South Sudan, I did it.

If I could do all of that—and I did—then why does most of the stuff that God asks me to do on a daily basis terrify me so much? Why do I listen to the fear when it says, “Well, yes, you’ve always heard God clearly before, but this is too scary to be God’s voice this time.”

I can’t answer my own question today. I just have to put it out there. (They say confession is good for the soul.)

Have you ever heard God? Have you ever wished you could but not been able to? Have you ever heard Him and struggled with saying yes?

This post is part of a series that my friend, Jason Stasyszen, a bunch of our friends, and I are having on the book Kisses from Katie. We welcome you to stick around and chat whether you’ve read the book or not. If you’ve written a response, please post it using the widget below. (Jason asked me to host this week as he’s having some technical difficulties on his site.) And please go visit the others. They always have awesome, thoughtful stuff to share!


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  1. Our family is hearing the “scary voice” and it’s pretty hard to really listen to because it’s just not comfortable. Yet, somehow and some times, we hear it and know it’s what we must do. And some times, I’m just not sure. I didn’t really answer your question but I’m definitely thinking about it.

  2. Sarah Salter says:

    Sarah Bee, I’m hearing “the scary voice” too. I didn’t go into detail in my post because, well, when too many people weigh in, it can make it way harder to process. I’m reminded of our Biblical namesake. When God told her husband he would have a child, she decided she would “help” God by giving her servant to her husband to conceive. God said, “Thanks, Sarah. I didn’t need your help!” And she had to wait 25 years to have her child. I wonder if that would have been faster if she hadn’t gotten in God’s way? And I wonder if sometimes, my getting in God’s way delays my blessing, too… Just some more food for thought. 🙂

  3. I can always count on you, Miss Sarah, for a well-prepared meal full of all the best foods for thoughts.

  4. Sarah Salter says:

    Awww, shucks, Sarah Bee! 🙂

  5. I couldn’t live without His voice (and I guess sounds pretty loony but I’m okay with it). 🙂 I’m so thankful for His direction, how He imparts His heart and mind to me. There is nothing like it and it’s a relationship we were created for. Thanks Sarah.

  6. Kerri (Earringopia) says:

    OK, I hear voices all the time because I do medical transcription from home (doctors’ voices through my headset). I love to joke about that quite often as sort of a take off from the movie “The Sixth Sense.” People do look at me oddly when I say I hear voices, but then have a good laugh after I pause for a couple of beats and then tell them the truth of my profession.

    For some people it really is as easy hearing from God as it is for me to hear doctor voices through my headset. I don’t hear God’s voice per se when I’m really looking for an answer, but there’s always this space in time where literally one second everything’s confused and then the next second everything’s clear. There’s also an “ah-ha” feeling attached to the experience as well. No matter how I hear it, it’s always an answer from a welcome source.

  7. Sarah Salter says:

    Kerri, that’s cute! And I totally get that clarity followed by an “ah-ha” feeling. It’s a great feeling, isn’t it? 🙂

  8. Sarah (S.) I ‘found’ you via Glynn Young’s site….your post made me smile. I’m so thankful for God’s Holy Spirit–I talk to Jesus all the time while I’m walking throughout my day–and He’s faithful to talk back. That still small voice He brings.
    “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him: but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.” II Cor. 2:6-16….
    I’m so thankful for the ‘but God’ part, and that when Jesus went away, He left us the Holy Spirit. Yep, that knowing in ‘our knower’, as my Pastor’s wife likes to call it.
    I can’t live without it!

  9. I don’t hear His voice, but I see His work. I always wish there would be a great big banner from heaven to give me direction. Instead I’m left with seeing His evidence after the fact. I want instant gratification but God never gives it to me! LOL

  10. I hear God regularly, but often I’m afraid of what He’s going to ask of me. You’d think I would have learned by now to trust in His direction and provision. I’m thankful for the benefit of hindsight, so I can see that He has been with me every step.

  11. Sarah Salter says:

    Jody, I love that scripture and it fits perfectly here! Thanks for coming by and sharing both it and your thoughts! Come back by any time. 🙂

  12. Sarah Salter says:

    Frank, I would say that seeing His work is a way of hearing His voice. Think of Gideon. It wasn’t what God SAID that led him. It was what God DID. He speaks in whatever way we can understand.

  13. Sarah Salter says:

    Larry, YES! I totally identify with your feelings. Totally. 🙂

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