Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Voice

Occasionally, I revisit a book given to me by my publisher entitled, Finding Your Voice by Les Edgerton. The book has been helpful to me because as a relatively new writer, finding my voice has been a challenging journey. With the realization that voice is one of the most important elements in writing fiction, I am working towards developing my own voice. The unique and distinct voice of a good writer is like a signature, nobody has the same one. Your voice is like your footprint, and it is that distinct mark that can make your writing stand out and be read or drown in the sea of other writers. There have been times when after I’ve read an especially intriguing novel, I find accidentally picking up the voice of another author’s work (which has been a train wreck!). I have to use the delet key and shut out the voices from other authors’ works, and continue to strive towards finding my own voice.

However, voice is not only important for a writer. For believers, hearing the voice of God is critical. The Word commands and warns us about the importance of hearing the voice of God. Just as a writer hopes his or her voice will stand apart from the crowd, God yearns for us to listen to His voice and obey His commandments in spite of all the other voices we hear. In John 10:27, Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” When we seek Him, we can hear His voice, and we should follow.

While I’ve never heard the audible voice of God, I can hear the voice of God in His Word. God’s Word resonates with my spirit when I am in a state of total submission to Him and His will. He already knows me, and I get to know Him intimately through
reading and meditating on His Word, as well as through consistent praying and fasting.

Obedience to His Word is one very important way that we can gauge how well we are following Him. We can’t be following Him if we aren’t obeying. We can’t obey unless we know what God expects, and what He expects is revealed to us in the Bible and through prayer. Jeremiah 7:23 gives us very direct instructions by the command, “Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all
the ways that I have commanded you that it may be well with you.”

There are so many voices competing for the number one spot to have our undivided attention. Televisions, cell phones, social networks, friends, coworkers, and even spouses and children can drown out the voice of God having first place in our lives. It’s not necessarily that other voices have to be negative (some are though), but they just don’t need to be first.

Why is hearing the voice of God so important? While there are too many answers for me to deal with here, one thing that may not be obvious comes to mind. We must hear His voice for our real voice to be heard. Many of us are trying to make our mark in the world by using a voice that is not authentic. Figuratively speaking, we may be using a voice to say to the world that we are special, important, and worthy. This often leads us to do things that He hasn’t called us to do so that we can gain money, success, prominence, and/or popularity. However, if God hasn’t called us to do whatever it is, those things will never give us lasting peace. Isaiah 26:3 says, “Thou wilt keep Him in perfect peace, whose mind in stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” We must keep our minds focused on him and trust Him at all costs, all the time, no exceptions.

The voice of God can quiet us in moments of despair, calm us when anxious, refresh and renew us when we’re tired, direct us when we’re lost, and hold us when we’re lonely—and so much more. We desperately need to hear The Voice, the majestic voice of our sovereign, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God.

Striving to Hear His Voice With You,

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


“Help! Help, Lord! We need your help!” An elderly woman from church service cried out, waving her lace white handkerchief as if she were sending out an SOS. It was a unexpected ripple during the middle of Sunday service, and the congregation quieted, almost motionless, and many, including me, wondered if the pastor would sit her down. She continued to cry out, “Help!” That really was all she said, but when I thought about it, it was more than enough.

For many of us, these are troubled times. Health challenges, financial crises, weather calamities, troubled relationships, as well as the ever-present evidence of spiritual decay is all around us. For those who don’t understand that they need help, I feel afraid for them. We all need the Lord’s help, and I hate sounding like an AA meeting—but the first step is humbling ourselves to realize that we need help from the Lord.

To some, this “first step” is elementary, but to others, the implication that they might need help is offensive. After all, so many pride themselves for being in control. While reading Jacob’s story, found in Genesis 29-31, I was struck by how two men, an uncle and nephew, respond to conflict by relying on themselves and their own resources instead of relying on God for help. However, through the course of Jacob’s life, he gets on the receiving end of Laban’s deceptive and manipulative behavior. As a result, Jacob’s knowledge and understanding of God grows. As he works years for Rachel and years for God’s permission to leave Laban, Jacob eventually vows not to make a move without God. Laban, on the other hand, continues his selfish decisions and refuses to fully depend on God for help (Genesis 24:1-35:55).

Recognizing our need for God’s help is crucial. Psalm 46:1 says that, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” We can’t be deceived into thinking that the only thing we need is people to do what we want them to do. We don’t just need a cure for diseases and illnesses, money for bills, or jobs so that we can work—or any other thing besides the Lord that we might think of. Our very present help is God. He is our Source. He is our lifeline. He is our help. He is the One who will give us the kind of healing that we need. He knows us better than any physician, better than anyone. He is the One who can give us divine wisdom to know what job we need to do and when. He can put us in positions that we can’t imagine! God is able to give us the wisdom and knowledge to appropriate the finances we do have. My husband reminds me often, “But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:18a). He will give us the ability if we trust in Him.

Moses begged God to release him from the assignment God had given him. He was fearful of people and how they might receive him. Most of us have probably felt like this at one time or another. It’s something I struggle with often, but the thing that truly quiets my soul is that God says to Moses during his time of anxiety and fear, “Who hath made man’s mouth? Or who maketh the dumb or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? Have not I the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say” (Exodus 4:11-12).

The Lord is our help and strength. Recognize and accept your need for repentance and God’s help if you haven’t. Depend on Him fully for all of your needs. He can bear the weight of whatever burdens we carry.

Relying on Him with You,