Think of someone you know . . . perhaps better than anyone else on the planet. Maybe it’s your spouse, parents, a sibling, a son or daughter or best friend. If you shut your eyes, can you see the person’s face? Could you pick him or her out of a crowd? What about his or her voice? Can you hear that as well?
Most of us would no doubt, be able to quickly identify this particular voice. If I was on the phone and had to listen to a thousand different people talking—one of them being my wife—I am completely confident I could pick her voice out every time. How could that be? The answer is simple . . . it’s because I have spent thousands of hours over the years with her voice. I know its tone, its inflections, her values, the things that would be said, and the things that would never be said. I know her laugh, her stories, her favorite Scriptures, the things she is passionate about, her concerns, her likes and dislikes . . . and when you truly get down to it, her very heart.
King David was a man of passionate worship and prayer. When you read through the Psalms, time and time again, we see his intimate conversations with God, beseeching Him to hear his heartcry and supplications. Do you think God recognized David when he called out? Perhaps the more important question is: Did David recognize the voice of the Lord when He answered? Years ago, I buried a thought—and challenge really—deep into my heart, and I mediate on it often: If God stopped talking to me, how long would it take for me to notice?
Most parents sincerely want their children to know their voices, not only to hear words of encouragement and when they whisper, “I love you,” but also words of warning, admonishment, and instruction. Beyond the day-to-day communication that’s typical of any family, parents also hope their sons and daughters will absorb their words, the wisdom that’s being shared, and the guidance offered over the years . . . to take these lessons as faithful companions into their own life journeys. How many of us as adults have said to our own children: “My Dad used to say . . .” or “My Mom always told us . . .”? I can shut my eyes and still hear my parents speaking even though they have departed from this side of eternity.
Is it really any different when it comes to our relationship with God? Should we endeavor to learn and be intimately familiar with the voice of our Creator? In a beautiful metaphor found in John 10, we see—and hear—the voice of the Good Shepherd. He says, “His sheep hear His voice” and that, “The sheep follow Him because they know His voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.” By learning to recognize the true voice of the Lord, we will always discern that of the imposter. On an interesting note, when it comes to identifying counterfeit money, U.S. treasury agents are trained only by studying real currency, not phony ones. If what they are inspecting fails to match what they have been taught to recognize as authentic, they automatically know the bill is counterfeit. What an important principle for us personally and in our role as life coaches.
Unfortunately, with today’s ever increasing technology, we seem to be losing the art of conversation, as well as the concept of people spending meaningful time together learning about and connecting with God. Relational time is being exchanged for screen time and 280-character sound bites. Some argue that even though this generation is the most technologically connected generation in history, it is also the most relationally disconnected generation in history.
Where do we start? What does the voice of the Lord sound like, especially when the vast majority of us will probably never hear His audible words until we are face-to-face with Him in heaven? Jesus taught His disciples, “Where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst” (Matt. 18:20)—a great motivator and confirmation He will show up. Proverbs 4 exhorts us to, “acquire wisdom and acquire understanding” and “not forsake her… and she will guard you; love her and she will watch over you” (vs. 5-6). It goes on to say, “When you walk, your steps will not be impeded; and if you run, you will not stumble. Take hold of instruction; do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life” (vs. 8-9, 12-13). Here, we see the link between wisdom and God’s voice.
One of my favorite passages is found in James 3 and his discourse on the subject. After describing wisdom “from below,” James then compares it to the wisdom “from above.” This identifies the source as God Himself. Like treasury agents, let’s look at these verses a little closer and see how we can use them to teach others to recognize the voice of our Heavenly Father:
That is First Pure
- God’s voice is not tainted by worldliness or selfish gain.
- God’s voice is holy and true to His Word.
That is Peaceable
- God’s voice is something that soothes the spirit and calms the soul.
- God’s voice is not contentious.
That is Gentle
- God’s voice is approachable and He is easily entreated.
- God’s voice is spoken with kindness.
That is Reasonable
- God’s voice is practical and does not create confusion.
- God’s voice is applicable to whatever is going on in our lives.
That is Full of Mercy
- God’s voice is not critical or judgmental.
- God’s voice is compassionate and loving.
That is Full of Good Fruits
- God’s voice is a commitment to action.
- God’s voice is something that leads to measurable results.
That is Unwavering
- God’s voice is not circumstantial.
- God’s voice is based on biblical principles.
That is Without Hypocrisy
- God’s voice is a reflection of Christ in our own lives.
- God’s voice is genuine and transparent.
The key is becoming familiar with His voice . . . the joy is doing it in relationship. And much like I can easily identify my wife’s voice, when we spend time with our clients, allow God to speak through His Word, and let wisdom be our teacher, others may come to recognize Him, the Prince of Peace, the God who provides, the Healer, the Bread of Life, and yes, the Good Shepherd.
Eric Scalise, PhD, is the President of LIV Consulting, LLC. He currently serves as Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) with Hope for the Heart. He is also the former Senior Vice President for the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) and former Department Chair for Counseling Programs at Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA. Dr. Scalise is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with 40 years of clinical and professional experience in the mental health field, and he served six years on the Virginia Board of Counseling under two governors. Specialty areas include marriage and family issues, professional/pastoral stress and burnout, combat trauma and PTSD, grief and loss, addictions and recovery, leadership development, and lay counselor training. As the son of a diplomat, Dr. Scalise was born in Nicosia, Cyprus, and has also lived and traveled extensively around the world. He is a published author, adjunct professor at several Christian universities, conference speaker, and frequently works with organizations, clinicians, ministry leaders, and churches on a variety of issues. Dr. Scalise and his wife Donna have been married for 40 years, have twin sons (who are combat veterans serving in the U.S. Marine Corps) and four grandchildren.