I hung up the phone and promptly fell into a heap, sobbing uncontrollably. Unable to catch my breath, my mind raced from one tragic event to the next, spiraling deeper into despair with each scene my memory recalled.
Pinned down, dark eyes, unheard cries. Cold bathroom floor, double blue lines. Forever traumatized.
Escape is what that phone call was supposed to have offered me; a way out; a way to leave the past behind and start fresh. Instead, my stomach twisted and turned and memories suffocated me, leaving me feeling hopeless—even after making the call to abort my rapist’s baby.
My gasps for air were interrupted by something I can only attribute to the voice of God. Not an audible voice, but it may as well have been, because it caught my attention as if someone had literally entered the room. My body quieted and my tears slipped down my blotchy cheeks without sound. I fumbled my way to a standing position, stood still and listened.
“What are you doing, Karyn? You’ve been begging for a baby for three years—-for three long years. Now you’re with child and you don’t want it?”
I spoke aloud, “She’s not mine, God.”
And in response, through His gentle whisper, I hear, “But she’s mine.”
I’ve shared this story before and people often ask, “How did you know it was God speaking to you?” I know because in my utter distress, I was unable to think beyond the moment, beyond the pain, beyond myself. His words—I was not capable to say let alone conjure up in my mind. His words combated those of my soul and aligned with His Word. His words spoken through impression, testified spirit to spirit. His words spoke light and truth over darkness and despair. His words spoke love in to hate, acceptance over outcast, peace over war. That’s how I know.
I get that my experience is not scientific proof. I get that the abstract nature of God speaking to us is subjective. And I get that many people doubt His ability to speak to us. Personally, I feel that the issue is not in God’s ability to speak, but in our inability to hear.
The phrase, “Whoever has ears, let them hear” is found six times in the gospels and eight times in the book of Revelation. Those six words—seemingly simple words—are anything but. Their “exhortation is one of urgency…our destiny depends on it,” writes Pastor and Author Mark Batterson.
Our destiny depends on hearing.
The thing is, we are not all that good at listening. We may take in the information communicated, but with it we filter it through who we are— our experiences, belief systems, personalities, ethnicities…. On the flip side, we assume that how we communicate–the motive, the meaning behind it–accurately rests on ears that hear, but just because we speak the same language does not mean we hear and understand one another.
We understand those who we’ve invested time; into those we’ve shared life with—the good, the bad, and everything in between; into those we’ve listened to and grasped their heart, their desires as well as their pains and sorrows. A relationship like this doesn’t manifest itself. It takes two people intentionally showing up with all of themselves in their raw state—allowing one another to be truly seen, to be truly known. We don’t do this in today’s culture, so the idea of doing this before a seemingly abstract god is foreign and I get it: weird.
The first time I prayed and then intentionally sat quietly in hopes to hear God, I waited and waited and felt nothing, heard nothing. After a long time, I hopped up from my chair and thought, “What a waste of time.”
I wonder if you have felt like this too?
When our expectations are not met over and over again, we often throw in the towel and stop expecting altogether. When we don’t hear God we may assume He isn’t speaking—or at least speaking to us. We may continue to pray to Him, ask him for this and that in our moments of desperation or even out of obligation or habit—and He hears us. Our words do not fall on deaf ears but on ears eager and willing to listen.
I wonder if we’re afraid of what God might say. I wonder if we fear a heavy hand, an admonishment, a good ol chastisement from Him. Lord knows we probably deserve it. The thing is, we’re fearing our idea of Him, not the reality of Him. We make assumptions based on what we think, not on who He is. And we don’t know who He is if we’re not in a genuine relationship with Him.
I wonder if sometimes reassign or redefine His message to us.
I wonder if we glimpse Him through sunsets and gentle winds, through the toothless smile and contagious giggle of the baby in the booth next to ours. I wonder if we glimpse Him though the extra tight hug of a friend, through music that quiets our soul and washes over us with a layer of much need respite. I wonder if we glimpse Him through revelations and ah-ha moments or in the moments that steal our breath away. I wonder if we see Him in the starry night and the raging seas—His peace and His strength. I wonder if His Word doesn’t sometimes connect dots that have left us stranded or shed Light, giving us eyes to see what has been there all the while. I wonder if we realize that in everything we see, God is present and God is speaking His Word, His love, His care over us. He delights to show Himself to us, if only we have eyes to see and ears to hear.
Mark Batterson, reminds us in His book, Whisper, that everything we see around us once began with God’s voice. You may not audibly hear Him, but His message, His voice, His Word is all around you.
In order to interpret His message accurately, we must first know Him; have a relationship with Him. This begins and ends with His Word. Anything He will ever reveal to you, will always, always, always align with His Word. The second this is, we must posture ourselves in a way to hear Him.
How do we do this?
By quieting our souls, letting go of our agenda, being receptive to whatever He may reveal to us. Easier said than done because what I read between the lines here is that listening involves submission, a willingness to die to self and tune into a frequency that we’re not necessarily comfortable with.
Listening doesn’t happen by default. Nope; it happens by design. We have to consciously lean in and listen—and discern. That discernment piece is critical because I’m not sure if you’re like me but my mind lies to me all the time. I hear little voices that tell me that I’m not good enough to hear from God, that I don’t matter, or that His message is for everyone else, etc. I exaggerate not when I say I’ve had these very thoughts as I have prayed. Satan is intimidated by our quest to know God more intimately and to hear from Him. He will use elements of truth and twist them—that’s why we HAVE to discern which voice/message we’re hearing and check it against our truth standard.
As for when we genuinely quiet our hearts, minds, and souls and we still don’t hear him, I have learned it is anything but a waste of time. Listening is not passive; it’s proactive. I believe God is honored and absolutely delighted when we give Him our time and attention.
“Nothing has the potential to change your life like the whisper of God. Nothing will determine your destiny more than your ability to hear his still small voice.”
My daughter, who is nearly 20 years old can attest to that!
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