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We’ve all heard it can be hard to hear God’s still, small voice. Apart from that difficulty, another problem arises in the communication between God and poor little us. Even when He speaks clearly, we don’t hear so well. Here are some examples of things I’ve misheard, and what I finally understood He was trying to say to me.
When God says, “Be still,” He doesn’t mean, “Be immoveable.” We’ve got to have an interior stillness that can be moved forward toward our own destiny, toward the reality we encounter – a dynamic centeredness that is very different from a rigid, or inert ‘stopping’.
When He says, “Be not afraid,” He doesn’t mean, “Your fears are groundless, stupid, psychological.” Fear inside is a response to something outside. We are affected by something, or by imagining something, and that causes a wave of the emotion that is ‘fear’. That emotion is not ridiculous, or crazy, but because it’s sometimes hard to discern what it was we were affected by, it can seem like He’s telling us to pooh-pooh it. In fact, He wants to cast it out for us – to send in buckets of perfect love to wash over us in a cleansing, healing wave.
We can turn toward our fear, knowing it is an emotional response to something, and ask Him for that love to come and calm its storm. We don’t have to ignore it, distract ourselves from it, or violate ourselves by toughening up against it. We may realize what caused it, and we may not. We may need to stop watching scary movies, reading scary news, having scary conversations, or allowing scary imaginations if we find ourselves frequently needing help with fears. Or, we may be amazed to find that the fears we thought we’d just have to deal with indefinitely, are simply gone – their originating events so deeply buried, and so profoundly healed that we cannot see what just happened!
When God says, “Be quiet,” He doesn’t mean, “Shut up!” He doesn’t violate us, doesn’t silence us, doesn’t ask us to ignore what we need to say, and doesn’t hate the sound of our voices, no matter how long we pray (or how angry, whiny, self-pitying, ungrammatical, or snarky those prayers are!). Quiet is a gift, and if He shushes us, it’s so that we can find out what our deepest needs really are and express those to Him. He’s waiting just to be with me in that interior chamber of my soul, and “Shhhhh” is to remind us that it’s a holy, hallowed, quiet place.
When He says, “Wait,” He doesn’t mean, “Never.”
When He says, “Be perfect,” He doesn’t mean, “Or else I’ll hate you.”
When He says, “Have self-control,” He doesn’t mean, “Be in control.”
When He says, “Be strong,” He doesn’t mean, “Be impervious.”
When He says, “No,” He doesn’t mean, “You were wrong to ask.”
I’m sure you get the idea. Sometimes it has taken me a while to figure out what message I was actually getting from God’s ‘transmitter’, and then fine-tune my ‘receiver’ so that I could hear an ungarbled message.
Here’s a talk I’ve given about having a great conversation with God.