The Still Small VoiceRecognise His Voice - Listening that affirms each other
Chapter Two, Part Three
We limit ourselves when we say
‘I’m not the sort of person
the Lord would speak to.’
It honours Him
when we attempt to listen to
His Still Small Voice.
Listening that affirms each other
When the rams are looking at the shepherd, the woolly coats rub companionably against each other – but when they look at each other they see only horns. (Anon)
Recognizing the work of the Spirit in each other is a vital part of being in touch with the Still Small Voice. F.B. Meyer was the leading conference speaker of his day. The time came when a younger man, Campbell Morgan, superseded him in popularity as a teacher.
For a time Meyer wrestled with the pain of seeing his followers turning elsewhere for their spiritual nourishment. To overcome these feelings he hit upon a truly inspired strategy: he resolved to spend as much of his time as he could praying for the success of Campbell’s ministry.
I have shared this stunning example of humility in action on numerous occasions, and it never fails to move me. It is the perfect antidote to striving and jealousy.
Long ago, Satan had a problem relating to God. To this day he never ceases trying to disrupt relationships. I have watched with dismay as ministers in a deliverance session have all but come to blows about how to proceed, never realizing the degree to which they were being influenced by the powers they should have been united in dislodging. It is an extreme example of the strain relationships come under when the enemy spies a weakness to exploit.(9)
Realistically, the powers of darkness do not have that many worthwhile targets in a given region to pursue. It is no wonder they focus their efforts on those who pose their efforts on those who pose the greatest danger. Don’t be surprised, Peter warns, when attacks crowd in on our health, reputation, doctrine, finances and so on.(10)
Typically, the enemy directs his forces against an individual or family, often using divisive spirits to make full used of specific information to hurt or malign. Part of the enemy’s strategy is to make us mistake our suspicions for the authentic voice of God.
Suppose I am getting to know someone who has been divorced, or who has had some kind of ‘history’ in the past. Things are going fine until a Bible verse jumps off the page, appearing to question their morality, or their motivation. Is this a Godly warning? Or is it the devil dredging dirt? We must be so careful. Leaping to wrong conclusions can seriously affect the way we relate to each other.
There have been many splits in the Body of Christ, in which basically excellent men and women have been driven from their posts through people heeding strong and distorted prejudices, and confusing this with the authentic leading of heaven.
How can we overcome the enemy’s implacable spite and jealousy? By affirming each other! The more we shout for joy when we see others doing well(11) (and the quicker we are to pray for those who are not faring so well), the less room we give the green-eyed monster.
For Reflection and Prayer
If the grass is looking greener on the other side of the fence, it is time to water your own lawn. (Anon)
‘Anger is cruel, and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?’(12) Jealousy lies at the root of every character defect. It injects its poison, turns us in on ourselves, and paralyzes our love and generosity.
There is only one letter difference between the words to ‘resent’ and to ‘repent’ – but all the difference in the world in their outworking.
Lord, when I see someone
Who is much more obviously blessed than I am,
Let me not feel rejected or passed over.
I hand every pang of jealousy and envy to You.
Show me any bitter roots
That are operating in my heart.
Uproot all jealousy or judgment,
And enable me to bless the people, institutions and
Fellowships I have been feeling so ambiguous towards.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Listening that complements and compliments
Jesus, lover of our souls,
let our earthly loves be true.
As I draw near to my beloved,
May I draw still nearer to You.
Jesus, we welcome You
Into the heart of our homes and friendships.
Let common wit and purpose spur us on:
Let nothing come between our love.
Have you noticed how the Lord often ‘balances’ people who are particularly gifted in hearing the Still Small Voice by placing them in a safe and solid context?
I can see in memory the man who founded a beautiful retreat centre that lies high in the hills of Pembrokeshire. I see him sitting at his desk by the window, working his way doggedly through huge administrative piles. His attention to detail perfectly complemented (although it may have occasionally irritated) his more spiritually ‘sensitive’ wife, who brought so many precious words from the Lord to the guests who were staying with them. The ministry needed both sets of skills.
You can probably think of a number of marriage and pastoral teams that the Lord ‘counterbalances’ in such ways. If both partners were too mystically inclined, the chances are that they would embark on all manner of schemes and ideas, and end up like Icarus – straying so close to the sun that they melt their wings, and crash back to Terra Firma. If both were too stolidly ‘earthly,’ however, they might lack the vision and initiative to attempt the things the Lord had in mind for them.
The Lord balances our giftings, therefore, and makes them complementary rather than competitive. This is wonderful – provided that everyone realizes what is going on. Otherwise spiritually minded giants might be inclined to grumble, ‘Why can’t they be more spiritual?’ leaving people whose feet are more firmly planted on the ground feeling like spiritual pygmies.
Over the years I have probably heard from the Lord more often than Ros – although at key moments, and on certain issues, the reverse has undoubtedly been the case. One of Ros’s most precious roles is to weigh and balance the words that I hear, and to keep me on course when I try to implement them prematurely, or lose confidence in them altogether.
For Reflection and Prayer
I love Paul’s masterly understatement, when he warns that we are not wise when we compare ourselves with one another.(13) Such comparisons stem only from pride, if we think we are better than them, or from shame and despondency if we feel we are inferior. Neither attitude is of the slightest help in discerning the Still Small Voice.
Since everything God gives is for the benefit of the whole Body, the following questions probe our heart’s leaning, whilst at the same time pointing us in a better direction:
i) How proactive am I in praying for people and ministries I am not instinctively drawn towards?
ii) Do I shout for joy when I see someone else victorious?
Respect the Boundaries
Stop – Look – Listen. (Road Safety Slogan)
A few miles from where we used to live, extensive sectors of Dartmoor are used as live firing ranges for the army. Red flags fly to show when these are ‘forbidden zones.’ In much the same way, the Lord finds ways to alert us when we are in danger of crossing into dangerous territory. It is up to us to heed the warnings.
If we cross the boundaries of propriety (whether in terms of basic morality, or in observing national and spiritual laws) we cannot but experience serious consequences. It is not so much that we break God’s laws as that they break us.
I can only plead with you to heed the slogan above: ‘Stop. Look. Listen.’ Acting on the promptings the Lord gives through His Still Small Voice can prevent an ocean of regrets later on.
Rick Renner describes a time when the Spirit prompted him not to go to a particular meeting. Because he had come a long way to attend it, however, he felt justified in overruling his persistent warning nudges. When he returned to his hotel room, he found it ransacked, with everything of value missing.(14)
The Lord is prepared to share many insights with us, but we must be careful not to pry into areas the Lord has no intention of speaking about. To return to the Narnia stories that mean so much to so many, Aslan rebukes Lucy on one occasion for eavesdropping on two friends who had been talking about her. At the same time he reassures her concerning the friend who had been talking about her in such a dismissive way.
‘You have misjudged your friend. She is weak, but she loves you. She was afraid of the older girl, and said what she does not mean.’ (15)
Having overheard something she had no right to be privy to, Lucy is worried that she may have spoilt the relationship forever. We have no doubt seen the Lord turn many such situations round through repentance and prayer, but Aslan takes the opportunity to outline a principle we all do well to bear in mind: ‘That is someone else’s story. No one is ever told what would have happened.’
To stray into ‘someone else’s story’ is to enter realms of divination that we are not permitted to explore.(16)
What happens if we allow no-go areas to develop in our lives? We are likely to find the Still Small Voice growing progressively fainter. Often, this comes about not because of conscious sin but because we have built ‘walls’ to protect ourselves from being hurt.
As we shall see in the final chapter, we may need to put certain ‘filters’ in place to protect ourselves from information overload. We must be careful, though, that the measures we adopt do not develop into full scale walls that keep the Lord, and other key people, at a distance.
Corrie Ten Boom once asked the Lord why she was no longer hearing the Still Small Voice. He reminded her that she had told Him once that she was willing to go anywhere for Him, so long as it wasn’t Germany.
The moment she repented of this ‘no-go’ area, the Lord began to speak to her again. He also opened the door for her to exercise a wonderfully fruitful ministry – in Germany!
For Reflection and Prayer
As we evaluate our attempts to listen, we will often find that our interpretation of events turns out to be too narrowly subjective. When hard things happen to ‘bad’ men, we automatically assume them to be the judgment of God. When similar things befall good people, we rush to put all the blame on the devil. That may by no means be all that is going on in a situation.
Lord, many of Your ways are past finding out;
Yet You are willing to share so much with us.
As we heed the words and whispers You send our way,
Help us to respect proper boundaries,
And to avoid over simplistic interpretations.
Be like the angels! (Mark 12:25; Luke 20:36)
Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. (Isaiah 65:17)
The whole of history is leading up to the moment when the Lord Jesus returns to make all things new. In the age to come, Jesus says that we will be like His messengers – the angels.
What do angels spend the greater part of their time doing? They come in to the throne room to worship the Lamp, and then they go out on specific assignments for Him. Since our future state will include service for God, and fellowship with Him, it makes sense to get in training now!
Lord, may we be like the angels:
Pure and single minded in our devotion,
But quick to recognize when You call us
to some new assignment.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
8 Mark 4:38
9 We will avoid many mistakes, and much discomfiture, if we learn to think about how our actions will affect the wider Body of Christ.
10 1 Peter 4:12f
11 Psalm 20:5
12 Proverbs 27:4
13 2 Corinthian’s 10:12
14 Rick Renner Sparkling Gems from the Greek (Teach All Nations). We cannot recommend this devotional compilation too highly.
15 C.S Lewis The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Harper Collins) pp.123-124.
16 Deuteronomy 29:29
RECOGNISE HIS VOICE
EXPLORE HIS SILENCE
THE ART OF REFLECTION
THE POWER OF DISCERNMENT
Testing Words and discernment
Peace - the Umpire
From Ruach to The Rock: The Shetland Saga
The 'Brandle Factor'
When the Timing is out
By Many Strands
Fleeces and Decision Making
Doors Opening: Stay Inside!
Avoiding the Trammel Net
Checking our Track Record
Putting Things Right
When God fulfills His Promise by another Route