One of my favorite concepts in scripture is about the Voice of the Holy Spirit . The clearest comment about what we would hear is found in the story of Elijah who heard God speaking to him following 3 distinct traumatic events.
And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake 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 a still small voice.
And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah? I Kings 19:11-13
When we desire to hear the guidance of the Father, the voice of his Spirit indwelling us is still, and small. One of the ways we can know that what we are being told from a million directions to do or not do, will generally be loud and in the midst of chaos. Two things we can know from Elijah's example: It's hard to hear the voice of God in the middle of the chaos. And two, since God isn't found in the midst of all the chaos, he wants us to distance ourselves from it, and find a quiet place to hear him.
As a child, I wanted counseling reruarding the bizarr irrational behavoir of my Dad. I sought out the school counselor after asking my Mom would it be OK. She agreed, and I spent weeks in first one office and then another, trying to find help for our family. I became very discouraged that there was no one to help us. No one seemed to understand. All they were able to do is listen to my story. I wasn't always sure they believed it. Sometimes I thought they wondered was it the imagination of a child. I only wish it had been. I only told them the least of what was happening at my house, because some of it was too hard to speak of. If they didn't believe the least of it, they would not believe the reality. So I came home one day, determined never to go to any advisor again.
Instead, I found a quiet place and listened for the still small voice of the Spirit to give me peace. When I got quiet enough to hear him, he gave me the answers I needed. Much like Elijah, it seemed that the Lord was saying, "What are you doing there? Seeking help from someone other than me first." Now don't get me wrong, sometimes we need help from others. But I had not truly given God a chance to speak to my heart his wisdom. I came to love the still small voice.
I have had people ask do I really hear a voice. The answer is "yes." Not an audible voice, and not a whisper, but it is definitely not my own voice. And it is ususally very different than my personality. Most often it brings to mind scripture, or words of peace and love. But occasionally, it is something very clear.
For example, I was bemoaning once in prayer, "God, it seems that about time I think I have something that makes me feel comfortable in life, not afraid to have a warm home and food, something happens. It is almost like you see me comfortable and take it all away." And to that, I heard so clearly God's voice, that I almost had to stop the car to breathe again. "I am not your father!" God said. Still and small and clear and firm. "Your earthly father took things back after giving them to you. I, am what a father should be; I give and bless, and love and increase. You give your self and your hopes to the evil one, and let him rule your thoughts. I am NOT YOUR FATHER."
I began to cry so hard I almost couldn't see to drive, and I felt chided and loved immeasurably in the same moment. I saw the error of my expectations of God. I also learned that I stifled the goodness of His blessing and desire to give his best to me, by measuring things by how selfish my own father had been. I really hadn't realized that I let my own father's actions taint my perception of God's willingness to give and bless and increase.
So you don't find the still small voice in chaos, with people who don't understand God's indwelling, or in limiting our expectations of God to the false image someone of influence has given us, of what love is. How do we know when God is speaking? When it is a still small voice of reason, that brings joy, peace, hope, blessing, love, faith...etc When the voice helps the world of possibilities open up, rather than leaving us feeling like the world is closing in. When our heart knows freedom, and is washed in his grace and mercy. That will be the spirit of God.
My daughter once told me she was overwhelmed with feelings of guilt. I asked her if she had truly addressed her situation with God. She said she had but couldn't over come the oppression and fear. She felt as if God just was holding her accountable. No amount of telling her God forgives without merit would help her. But at a time when she was completely ready to hear the still small voice, she heard me say, God just isn't like that. Whose voice are you hearing? And she realized, that she was not hearing God's sweet voice, but was allowing Satan to defeat her with his lies. God's voice is not a defening roar in our heads that exasperates, accuses, or defeats us. Jesus said to that voice: "Get thee behind me Satan."
Today I ask you: What are you doing standing there in the place of chaos, or listening to people who don't know the whole of it, or letting someone who is supposed to be your example sway you, or hearing the mean, deceiving voice of Satan? You won't find the Spirit's sweet clear voice there. Find what the Spirit is leading you to.
By the way, when the Spirit of God is leading you to salvation, it is not he who accusing you of sin. Beleive it or not, it is Satan, who wants to make you so afraid that you are unworthy, that you will not accept the indwelling salvation of that precious sweet Spirit. The Spirit comes with a wash of freedom from sin and fear. It is a voice like no other.
Lord, if there is one who has never asked for the saving power of Christ and the indwelling of your Spirit, may they hear the gentle call of the Spirit's voice. For all of us who struggle sometimes with your guidance, remind us how to listen for your voice, and where we will not find it. By His Blood, AMEN