I can treat the voice of the Lord the same way if I’m not careful.
The Spirit of the Lord can “call,” but I don’t answer right away. He leaves a lingering reminder, which I also ignore, shoving it into the background of my thoughts with the intention of listening later, when more pressing things quit demanding my attention.
At my house, there isn’t a landline; the phone cable plugs directly into a machine. By eliminating the phone, I was absolved of the guilt heaped on me by my poor boundaries, which insisted I answer every call. Spiritually speaking, we can disengage from God because we have been protecting ourselves. The systems we put in place to guard against emotional exploitation, can also render us incapable of clear, spontaneous connection with God.
Thankfully, He doesn’t hang up. He stays on the line and leaves a message. God’s patience allows us an opportunity to stop, listen, repent, and reconnect with Him. The danger is waiting too long to respond.
This happens on our machine when voicemails have accumulated. The piece of equipment is not designed to hold on to so many voices, it must be cleared, and I find it easier to delete everything at once than to listen to a string of political messages and telemarketer scams. After all, I’m not really expecting anything of value to be on that recorder. Sounds like us. We aren’t equipped to hold onto a plethora of voices. We were created for a single, open line of communication linking Heaven to our earthen vessel, but many calls clamor for our attention, leaving little deposits of their messages into our spirits. Convoluted--or double-minded as James calls it--we lose faith, unable to distinguish the voice of the Lord from everything else speaking into our lives. The delay costs us our expectation, which in turn causes us to delete the reverent right along with the junk.
Here's an example. A few months back, our church had someone operate in the gift of interpretation of tongues. The message was beautiful. It was a word spoken from God’s lips to our ears, telling us how He had allowed us to go through wilderness places to test us. He said that He’d seen it all, our victories and our failures, as well as how we had repented and made it through the trial. He offered a promise--to replace our tattered garment with new garment and a new mantle as He led us to places of rest and beauty and fresh discoveries in Him.
I was there. I heard the message. A phone call from Heaven, if you will. I thought it was beautiful, but I only gave it cursory attention. In essence, I let the machine pick up. I intended to revisit the message, but I got busy with life. A few days later, someone posted the message on Facebook, a beep if I ever heard one. I re-read it, still failing to give it the full attention it needed. The beep was consistently loud; I just didn’t hear it as much. Like a resounding beep, a friend brought up the message again, sharing how personal it was to her. I realized I’d forgotten it. As she chatted, little snippets of what she said pierced my heart. Words she’d held dear and personalized had been prophesied over our church. They were honeyed words, meant for any to receive, available for anyone who would listen and receive. Words meant for me. I chose to listen instead of dismissing it a final time. I had my friend email me the script of the words. Like rewinding a voice message and hitting play over and over again, I savored what was spoken. I listened intently. The words were personal, meaningful, sweet to my ears. An intense message, worthy of the beeping reminder it was there. It was a message I was glad I’d taken time to hear.
Tip/Tidbit: Take some time this week to listen. As you are still, ask God to replay any of His whispers you have ignored. Maybe it wasn’t an audible message like the one our church received. Perhaps it was a quiet knowing in your heart, or a scripture you felt you needed to study, or a sermon you needed to apply. When you take time to heed this word, even if it is correction that requires change, the end result will be a blessing so sweet you’ll be glad you listened and obeyed.