Erwin McManus, a pastor in Los Angeles, tells a great story about recognizing God’s voice.
My son, Aaron, was five or six when he began asking me, “What does God’s voice sound like?” I didn’t know how to answer.
A few years later, Aaron went off to his first junior high camp. In the middle of the week, I went up with another pastor at Mosaic to see our kids. Aaron, I learned, had started to assault another kid but had been held back by his friends. He was unrepentant, wanted to leave camp, pulled together his stuff, and shoved it into the car.
I asked him for a last talk with me before we drove away. We sat on two large rocks in the middle of the woods. “Aaron,” I asked, “is there any voice inside you telling you what you should do?”
“Yes,” he nodded.
“What’s the voice telling you?”
“That I should stay and work it out.”
“Can you identify that voice?”
“Yes,” he said immediately. “It’s God.”
It was the moment I’d waited for.
“Aaron,” I said, “do you realize what just happened? You heard God’s voice. He spoke to you from within your soul. Forget everything else that’s happened. God spoke to you, and you were able to recognize Him.”
I will never forget Aaron’s response: “Well, I’m still not doing what God said.”
I explained to him that that was his choice, but this is what would happen. If he rejected the voice of God coming from deep within and chose to disobey His guidance, his heart would become hardened, and his ears would become dull. If he continued on this path, there would be a day when he would never again hear the voice of God. There would come a day when he would deny that God even speaks or has ever spoken to him.
But if he treasures God’s voice, however it comes to him—through the scriptures, through his conscience—and responds to Him with obedience, then his heart would be softened, and his ears would always be able to hear the whisper of God into his soul.
Aaron chose to stay, I’m grateful to say. If he had chosen differently, he would have begun the path toward nominal discipleship. Perhaps he never would have rejected the faith overtly. He might have even chosen to be a faithful attendee at a church and been by everyone else’s estimation a good man, but he would no longer be a close Jesus-follower.
Contributor: Anne Benefield