In a 1950 movie The Next Voice You’ll Hear (staring James Whitmore and Nancy Reagan), one ordinary day without any warning, on every radio in the world, people hear the following: “This is God. I’ll be with you for the next few days.” More messages come; some people react positively, others negatively. There’s no profound theology in the movie, but it raises a wish we’ve all had, for God to speak audibly to us. Wouldn’t it be great if we could only hear His voice? I told a fellow regular at a coffee shop I was checking my email and he said, “Doesn’t God talk to you directly?”
Does God speak today? Many people figure they’re on their own, or they surrender to a kind of fatalism, “What will be, will be.” Or they plot out their own path somehow. But we’re not left floundering without guidance. We can know the will of God for our lives. He has a calling for each one of us. A buddy of mine calls himself an “ordained plumber.” Some people claim that God has literally spoken to them in an audible voice, as He spoke to the prophets of old. I wonder about some of these people, especially the faith-healers you see on TV. It seems the “message” is always about money. Yet some reputable Christian leaders also have claimed to hear an actual voice.
What if we, like Moses, encountered our own burning bush? That is certainly possible, but we’d have to proceed cautiously and evaluate the content of such communication. It doesn’t appear to be God’s standard means of speaking today. Some people claim God has “told” them something in order to elevate their own credibility. Others say they have a sense of what to do, an impression or leading, a kind of discernment that doesn’t seem to come from their own awareness.
How do we proceed in life? How do we make wise decisions? God guides us through His word, through impressing us inwardly, and outwardly, through circumstance and the advice of people we trust. One caution about impressions–they need to be tested by Scripture. God won’t lead us to do something the Bible disapproves. And of circumstance–we have to be careful about “open doors” to be sure others we trust agree this we’re on a wise course of action. And of advisors–we need to be sure those we listen to are godly people with a Christian worldview. We discover wisdom as we become students of Scripture. We’re equipped for life. We know right from wrong and we know what God expects of us.
Sometimes God’s voice seems obvious, and at other times cloaked in mystery. Understanding God’s will doesn’t mean we’ll be able to grasp His purpose completely. Much of life remains hidden, forcing us to trust in God, Who loves us and has reasons for the challenges we face. We rest in His providence. Sometimes His will is obvious, and at other times we’re faced with being patient in our journey of faith.