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The Voice 2

May 3, 2010

Thanks to all of you who posted comments on my last blog with your own stories and experiences of dealing with the voice. Obviously, we are not alone in our struggle.

Have you ever been in a crowded coffee shop or restaurant, wanting to have a conversation with someone, and become frustrated at the noise level around you? You can hear the sound of your friend talking, but amidst all the clamor, sometimes it’s hard to hear what they’re actually saying.

That’s what my life feels like a lot. Regardless of what I’m trying to focus on, the noise is coming from everywhere, and the loudest thing buzzing is usually what holds my attention.

This passage hit hard one day. “And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.” 1 Kings 19

This story helped me begin to understand that perhaps my problem with the voice and all its deception wasn’t so much that it was the only sound in my ear (or mind, or heart), it was simply the one to which I was giving the most attention. The Lord, my Heavenly Father, is speaking but evidently, for whatever divine reason, He chooses not to be the loudest voice.

Learning this has been slow. But if there’s been one practice in my life that has helped the most to hear the voice I want and need to hear, the voice of The Shepherd, it’s been developing the discipline of daily silence into my life. Without it, life is a crowded coffee shop.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably a “music person” and among other things, that probably means that, like me, you don’t do a lot without music playing somewhere. I realized that even my times of “quiet” were accompanied by music. And even though it might have been good music, it was still noise. Turning off the music, and sitting with the silence, was SO difficult for me at first. Over the years, I had learned to never be totally quiet. In some ways, I think I was afraid of it. (we’ll save that self-analysis for another blog)

Most of the time, I find myself listening to the wind, the fire, and the earthquake. But I’m discovering that only in silence can I hear the “low whisper”. In silence, I can open the Word and “hear” what the Scripture, the God-breathed words, are saying to me. Then, over time, I begin to know His voice, and I can sense His love, care and direction for me. For me personally.

The enemy is constantly shouting fear, insecurity, incompetence, and the reasons why not to try. My Heavenly Father is whispering love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and goodness. He quietly affirms and encourages me to put my confidence in Him as I walk in to what He’s placed before me.

If you hope to effectively deal with the voice of the enemy, I believe you must begin by learning to tune in to the voice of your King. It is still, and small. It whispers low. Don’t expect to hear it above the din of your everyday life.

Be quiet.
Every day.
He is speaking.
Walk in dependence.
Don’t be afraid.

When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. John 10:4

12 Comments leave one →
  1. May 3, 2010 4:05 PM

    A wonderful blog, John!

    One thing I struggle with is clearing my head while I am reading the Bible. Sometimes my life is so busy and chaotic that my devotional sounds something like this…

    “The LORD is my Shepherd I shall not want,
    [Oh, I need to not forget to call Candace today…]
    He makes me to lie down in green pastures,
    [I wonder if it’s too soon to bug that booking agent again…]
    He leads me beside the still waters…”
    [Oh and I have to reschedule that meeting with Judy …]

    Personally, I have found that reading the Bible out loud helps. I forces me to absorb the words I am are reading, even if I’ve heard them 10 times before.

    In fact, that reminds me of Psalm 46:10 –

    “Be still and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!”

    Somehow we as Christians need to “Be still” amidst this fast moving world, and exalt God over everything else happening in our lives; over writing songs, house work, making phone calls, mailing CDs out, eating healthy … It’s HARD though!

    It is written that God works in mysterious ways. One mysterious way I have discovered in my own life, is that when I somehow manage to let go, stop fretting and admit that I’m not in control of life, and when I exalt God in everything that I do (at least as well as I can being human, fallen, and a hardwired multitasker) that God makes wonderful opportunities open up for me almost inexplicably (at least, it would be inexplicable if I didn’t believe in His sovereignty and providence).

    Of course, there is still a lot of work involved, and not everything comes through … but so many things go smoother when we are trusting in God and not in ourselves, or others, or our vehicles, or modern technology … Over all these things, God must be exalted in our hearts. We must find a way to “Be still” amidst the storm of life.

    • John Mays permalink
      May 4, 2010 4:43 PM

      Thanks Jennifer. You do a good job of articulating the struggle. We can all learn from your own journey toward silence. Thanks so much.

  2. May 3, 2010 4:20 PM

    I have no idea what else to say… but ‘thank you’-

    Finding those quiet moments can be hard… silence results in thinking- and thinking can be rather noisy in itself. I agree that time in God’s word is necessary, along with time spent resting in Him. With that rest comes trust… knowing that no situation is too big for Him to handle. He isn’t some deistic God expecting us to navigate the raising waters on our own- He wants a relationship with us. He wants us to listen for His voice, but He’s not going to compete with the noise of this world. We are to look beyond this world.

    Sometimes He speaks through music. Sometimes it’s through a whisper or through writter word. There is no limit to the way He can move, but I have never felt more joy than those moments when I hear His voice clearly- and draw closer to Him in response.

    • John Mays permalink
      May 4, 2010 4:45 PM

      Hey Gina-

      You’re spot on. I hope I didn’t leave the impression that he only speaks one way. Obviously, He’s God, and He speaks in and through all kinds of situations and expressions. Even loud ones!

      Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Bruce Stillwagon permalink
    May 3, 2010 6:41 PM

    Doug Fields (Purpose Driven Youth Ministry) wrote a little book called Refuel, we did a small group study on it, about a 100 pages. There is a chapter called STOP, then another called Be Quiet. As you and he state, we need to stop and then be quiet for a while, turn off radio, TV, etc. and just listen. I have tired, you are right its very hard. My best time is once I drop Laura off at school, radio/ Ipod goes off and just me and the car, it generally works but as I get close to my office, suddenly volume starts going up. Ought to check the book out.

    • John Mays permalink
      May 4, 2010 4:45 PM

      Sounds like a good recommendation. Thanks Bruce.

  4. May 10, 2010 2:22 PM

    Great post John. God won’t shout over the TV. Men shout. Satan accuses. God whispers.

    Why? I think it’s about free will. If God made himself known in all of his magnificence, there would be no more choice. We could only obey. Instead, God whispers to our soul. That’s the way love does things. He leaves puzzles and clues lying around waiting for us. A tree here. A mountain there. A kind stranger. Springtime. All the while knowing that we have a tremendous curiosity and hunger inside of us. All the while knowing the one thing we simply can’t resist is an unsolved mystery.

    • John Mays permalink
      February 1, 2011 1:40 AM

      Hey Dennis-

      So good to hear from you! I missed this reply and am just now catching up on it.

      Great word. Thanks for taking the time to post it. I know it will help some of our readers.


  5. Brent permalink
    May 20, 2010 9:45 AM

    So Good. Thanks, John.

    • John Mays permalink
      February 1, 2011 1:41 AM

      Thanks Brent-

      Forgive me for taking so long to acknowledge your reply. Really appreciate you reading and offering some encouragement along the way.


  6. Don DeMumbrum permalink
    June 7, 2010 10:39 AM


    This blog stirred a lot of emotions in me. In January 2001 Carol and I were one month away from
    having our second child, Ethan. I was filled with that same voice. It was almost as if I could hear no other despite what was a wonderfully blessed time of my life. I can now clearly look back and see the words of Romans 8:28 covering me and my family.

    The last year has been extremely “spiritually challenging” for our family and we have continued to rely on those words. In 2003 Carol was “called” and became the first ever Children’s Director at the church she grew up in and I had attended for some 20 yrs. The money was insignificant but Carol’s commitment involved our whole family and we were fully invested in it. God’s work through Carol allowed the children’s ministry to explode over a three year period.

    2007 brought a different pastor for our small country church. As the demands on Carol and our family increased it became clear that this ministry needed more than 1 part-time person. Despite our requests for help, this pastor began placing more, and purposefully unachievable demands on Carol. It became apparent that this pastor and her undercurrent of supporters became “agents’ of the voice we were again hearing.

    Last August it simply became too much. It had taken a severe toll on Carol’s health and the well being of our family. Carol resigned her position – the position she created and we left the church that we loved. Obviously Carol took this very hard. She felt like she had let the kids down. The enemy (his voice with all the doubts and fears) and his agents (within a church no less) had won. That battle anyway.

    As Carol’s health is slowly returning, our family is experiencing a peace we had lost along the way.
    We’ve grown even closer and are preparing for what God has next for our family ministry.

    A book I would like to recommend is called “Satan And His Kingdom” by Dennis McCallum.
    It has helped me to better understand / recognize the enemy’s voice and how to deal with it.
    Better at least.


    • John Mays permalink
      February 1, 2011 1:43 AM


      Next time we see each other you can kick me, then remind me to do a better job of watching these replies. So sorry for the late response.

      What a great post. Thank you. And thank for the recommend on the book. I know some of the readers will want to dig in to it.

      Master away my friend!


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