I’ve heard people say, “God never talks to me.” Is that because God isn’t talking? Or is it because they have a hearing problem?
Hearing is different from listening.
My mother used to say I had “convenient” hearing. I was hearing what I wanted to hear and ignoring the rest as if it didn’t exist. Hearing is what I do with my ears. But listening is another matter, because my mind must be engaged.
Christians sometimes say, “God told me.”
They talk like they heard a booming voice from above. That’s a bad thing to say, because it leaves me thinking, Why doesn’t God talk to me that way? Usually, that’s just an expression for what was no more than a feeling or thought that the person chose to listen to and identified as God speaking.
A whisper encourages listening.
With God’s “still, small voice,” I have to listen. I’m not sure I would listen any better if he were shouting. When I don’t want to get up, I have no problem sleeping through an alarm. Sometimes I wonder if I even heard it, but actually I wasn’t listening.
God can shout if he wants to.
God could speak to me from a burning bush as he did with Moses. He could part the clouds and shout from blinding light like the way he met the apostle Paul on the way to Damascus. I’m not sure I want him to speak to me that way. Moses had to give up everything to deliver a nation from Egypt, and Paul endured beatings, shipwrecks, and persecutions in his missionary journeys where people hated the Christian message.
Escaping God’s voice can be difficult.
If I could talk to Jonah, I’m pretty sure he would say I should listen to God’s whispers. If I choose not to listen, God could send a raging storm to encourage me to do what he wants.
Since God doesn’t want anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9), he must be tugging at everyone’s heartstrings. I love the quote from the atheist who screamed, “I don’t believe in God. And I hate him.” The subtext in that statement is: “I refuse to listen to the voice speaking to my heart. He’s not the God I want, so I refuse to believe in him. And I hate the way he’s treating me. I wish he’d go away.”
The tough part of listening to God is having to accept what he has to say.
If you have an ear to hear, you should listen to what the Spirit is saying. — Revelation 3:22