Remember this familiar question? It was part of a well-known TV commercial about a cellular provider claiming to have the capability to provide phone service almost anywhere. Supposedly, if you used this company you would never have to ask, “Can you hear me now?”
Think about that question from a different perspective. Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” For the follower of Christ, perhaps we should ask, “Can you hear Him now?” Are we listening to what God is saying to us?
Hebrews 1:1-2 says, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. (Hebrews 1:1, 2 NASB)
Do we hear what God says to us through His Son? God spoke clearly through His son Jesus. He said, He loved the world so much that He gave His only son to take our place, and to become the sufficient sacrifice for our sins.
Do we hear what the Son says to us through His Spirit? Jesus, before leaving His disciples, said, “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” (John 16:12, 13 NASB)
Can we hear Him now? If not, the problem is not with the provider. He has provided everything we need to clearly hear what He has said, and what He continues to say. The problem therefore, is not with God, but with us.
There could be several reasons we fail to hear God speaking to us. First, we have to take the time to listen. Many times, we are too busy to hear His voice. The Psalmist said, “Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him;” (Psalm 37:7a NIV) Also, “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10a NIV)
Often, the problem is too much noise. Noise can drown out His voice, and make it difficult, if not impossible, to hear what God is saying to us. Have you ever noticed how some people are not comfortable unless there is some kind of noise around them, radio, television, iPod, etc? The human brain however, is limited in its capacity to intake noise. It automatically filters out some of the noise. Noise overload can keep us from hearing God’s message to us.
The most serious problem, however, is our inability to distinguish His voice from all the other “voices” that come at us each day. If we do not know Him, we will not recognize His voice. Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27 NIV) If you do not know the Shepherd, then you will not recognize His voice, nor will you be able to follow Him.
To illustrate this truth, a local pastor did voice recordings of several members of his congregation repeating the phrase, “Can you hear me now?” He played the recordings to the congregation on a Sunday morning and asked if they recognized the voices. Of course they did. Almost all the members of the congregation identified the different people on the recordings. I, on the other hand, did not recognize any of them. I was a visitor, and although I was acquainted with some of the people, I could not identify any of their voices. I did not have an ongoing relationship with them, and did not hear their voice on a regular basis.
The point is, unless we spend time with The Lord Jesus, and know Him intimately; we may not be able to recognize His voice when He speaks to us. Knowing Him is a prerequisite to knowing His voice.
How do you know for sure it is The Lord speaking to you? When I sense God leading or telling me to do something, I always ask, “How does this line up with the Scriptures and with God’s character?” You can be sure, God never tells us to do something contrary to His character or His Word.
Can you hear Him now? If it is a noise problem, turn the volume down and listen. If it is a busyness issue, be still and wait upon Him. If you cannot recognize His voice, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8 NASB)
If you cannot hear Him now, what is in the way, and what are you willing to do about it?