Sunday 8 May 2022
Another reflection on hearing the voice of God,
My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.
The voice I most long to hear is my mother's voice. I love when I dream and hear and know her voice so clearly. I love talking with her in those dreams and am so thankful for those dreams that feel so real. Sometimes I am apologising for any hurt I have caused her and she is always forgiving. I acknowledge though for others their mother’s voice may not bring with it good memories.
How do we hear the voice of God? For some they set aside daily times for prayer and find a quiet place, a quiet room without distractions. They need time away from the world and the distractions. While I find quietness and stillness helpful, I also need to be mindful, going into a quiet room for example, that I am not trying to make contact with a God who lives outside this world, in a heaven far away, but with a God who is present at all times in the world around me, a God who is one with us, within us, around us; a God who is present in creation, in what God has created and is communicating himself or herself to us through all things. God is in all things and all things are in God.
Dara Molloy in his book Reimagining the Divine has a poem about when he first went to live as a hermit on an island off the West coast of Ireland. It shows how he changed from strict set aside times of prayer to an attentiveness in all moments of the day. Read Prayer by Dara Molloy (pages 223-224). Prayer for him was something he did but now prayer is simply being. This says something to us about listening for God in every moment and having an attentiveness to seemingly unimportant things because God may not just be waiting for us to become quiet in our room or only early in the morning or when we come to church once a week but is communicating with us through all things.
At the moment politicians are calling out to us to hear them, to trust them to follow them to the polling station and to vote for them. How do we know who to vote for? Perhaps we have prayed about that. Perhaps we have sought God’s guidance. Perhaps we are waiting for God to tell us who to vote for, to give us a clear sign. In my experience the voice of God is not heard in some clear answer to my requests but rather more like a whispering on the wind, something that comes to me that surprises me, challenges me, extends me, opens me to the possibility that the God I seek is much bigger and more wonderful than I could imagine, but this voice always speaks in tones that are loving and kind, and most times the voice is not heard in words but in loving caring actions.
To know the voice of God I think knowing our own voice helps. Being still with ourselves and going beyond the voices within of anger, of self-loathing, self-pity, hatred, unforgiveness, bitterness, untruths, lies, to a place of acceptance of oneself, of one’s circumstances, one’s age, of who one is; and in the stillness and acceptance of that place perhaps we may hear more clearly the voice of the one we name as God, the one Jesus likens himself to, the God who like a shepherd knows their sheep and whose voice the sheep hear and trust and follow. This is the voice we seek and perhaps the voice that may be speaking through us.
Minister of Campsie Earlwood Clemton Park Uniting Church Congregation